Joy for Ulster as Neville makes refereeing history

Updated / Saturday, 10 Feb 2018 08:31

Craig Gilroy bagged a hat-trick for Ulster

Ulster 59-10 Southern Kings

Referee Joy Neville added another piece of history to her already impressive CV when she took charge of Ulster's 59-10 win over Southern Kings in the Guinness Pro14 at the Kingspan Stadium.

The 34-year-old became the first female official to referee a fixture in the tournament's history.

Neville was named World Rugby Referee of the Year in November, a month after taking charge of her first international between Norway and Denmark.

After winning 70 caps which included helping Ireland complete a Gram Slam on the way to claiming the Six Nations title in 2013, she took steps to become a referee.

Since then, she has progressed from serving as an assistant referee to taking charge of high-profile games such as Friday's PRO14 fixture in Belfast.

Neville oversaw a comprehensive victory for the homeside with Craig Gilroy helping himself to hat-trick of tries.

Rob Lyddle crossed the whitewash twice while Stuart McCloskey, Johnny McPhillips, Kieran Treadwell and Darren Cave all touched down as new head coach Jono Gibbs was afforded the dream start to life at Kingspan Stadium.

Joy Neville shakes hands with Ulster's Matthew Dalton after the game

The game was just six minutes old when, from a penalty put into the corner, Ulster moved the ball infield and Gilroy scored by the posts after taking a great line of John Cooney who then converted.

But the Kings struck back with a Masixole Banda penalty on 14 minutes after Luke Marshall strayed offside.
A Gilroy break then put McCloskey in space in the Kings' 22 and the centre smashed over with Cooney's conversion taking Ulster's lead to 14-3, just before the home side lost Charles Piutau to an arm injury.

Gilroy then surged through for his second score on 38 minutes, which again came from a penalty, lineout maul and Cooney pass.

Cooney's conversion made it 21-3 at half-time and that became 28-3 two minutes after the restart when McPhillips scored Ulster's bonus and Cooney converted.

Lyttle crossed in the 49th minute and Cooney again converted, this time from the touchline to see Ulster lead 35-3.

That became 40-3 five minutes later when Gilroy got his hat-trick via a break out begun by McPhillips with an assist from Cooney who this time missed the extras after the ball hit an upright.

Lyttle then got his second after another break out though he then was assisted off injured just as Cooney missed the conversion.

The Kings then ran the length of the field to score in the 70th minute with sub Harlon Klaasen getting the try and fellow sub Benhard Janse Van Rensburg converting.

Ulster brought the 50 up three minutes later when Treadwell crossed with Cooney adding a great conversion.