Ulster knocked La Rochelle off prime spot in European Champions Cup Pool One with a hard-fought 20-13 win over the French aspect at a moist and windy Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.
Captain and man of the match Rory Greatest, Jacob Stockdale and Nick Timoney scored tries for Les Kiss’ aspect, giving them a one-point lead on the prime of the group and in a great place to qualify for the quarter-finals for the primary time since 2014.
The Irish province can end as pool winners in the event that they triumph with a bonus level at Wasps in subsequent weekend’s last spherical of video games.
However Ulster’s failure to achieve a maximum-point triumph, together with the French workforce managing an important dropping bonus level – due to a attempt, conversion and two penalties from scrum-half Alexi Bales – meant La Rochelle remained within the combine forward of their dwelling recreation in opposition to Harlequins.
Bales opened the scoring with an ninth-minute penalty after big early strain from La Rochelle had practically put Vincent Rattez in from a Jeremy Sinzelle cross-kick.
That grew to become 6-Zero on 16 minutes after Ulster have been penalised at a lineout and Bales landed the kick. The guests have been then lowered to 14 males when substitute winger Paul Jordaan was yellow-carded by Wayne Barnes for hitting Charles Piutau in mid-air within the 22nd minute.
Ulster took benefit of their numerical superiority and, after Christian Lealiifano – enjoying his last dwelling recreation for Ulster – put a penalty into the nook, the lineout was secured and Greatest received on the again of an irresistible maul to attain on 28 minutes.
John Cooney missed the conversion, leaving Ulster trailing by a degree, which was the way it stayed till Jordaan’s return.
Ulster received their noses in entrance 5 minutes earlier than half-time. After some good method work from their pack, the ball was thrown broad, with Louis Ludik’s scoop permitting Stockdale to select up and cost over in the suitable nook after swatting three defenders.
Cooney once more failed so as to add the extras following the Eire winger’s rating, however the dwelling aspect took their 10-6 benefit into the interval.
The sport erupted into life with two tries in three minutes – one for every workforce – early within the second interval.
First, Bales scored close to the posts after Victor Vito’s break had carved Ulster open to take the guests again into the lead, with the scrum-half’s conversion of his personal attempt making it 13-10 to La Rochelle.
However Ulster instantly hit again when substitute Darren Cave latched onto a spilled ball in La Rochelle’s 22 to place Timoney in house and the quantity eight did nicely to drive over after 45 minutes.
Cooney’s conversion put Ulster 17-13 up and that grew to become 20-13 when the scrum-half added a 49th-minute penalty.
The rest of the sport was largely dominated by Ulster, however neither aspect managed any additional scores.