Ulster coach Dan McFarland praised his young side's display as they took away a bonus point from the 54-42 Pro14 defeat by Leinster at the RDS.
In the battle of largely second-string sides, a rout looked in prospect as Leinster led 47-14 early in the second half but Ulster finished strongly.
Ethan McIlroy was among four replacements to make Ulster senior debuts in the Dublin contest.
"I was proud of our lads," McFarland told Eir Sport after the game.
"They worked really hard and we had some really good collisions in there.
"When you are playing against a team that can play with that tempo, it's really difficult and they made us pay in the first half.
"But we had the likes of Ethan McIlroy who was playing Schools Cup rugby last year marking Rob Kearney this year and he was terrific."
McElroy came on in the first half after full-back Rob Lyttle was forced off by injury.
Other Ulster Academy players Stewart Moore, Azur Allison and Jack Regan also came off the bench to make the debuts and McFarland name checked all three.
"Those lads all did well. We came back and scored six tries. Not many teams will come here and score six tries."
However, the Ulster coach admitted that he "couldn't be happy" at his team's concession of 54 points.
Losing Matt Faddes to what looked like a harsh yellow card in the first half didn't help Ulster's prospects as they conceded two tries when down to 14 men.
"Even with that Leinster rather tortured us in the first half. They had the ball and were exceptional. They were getting really quick ball and were constantly getting on top of us."
A blow from the RDS contest with what Ulster described as a "serious-looking knee injury" sustained by centre Angus Curtis in the second half which caused a lengthy delay as medics worked on him before he was stretchered off.