Cooney stars again as Ulster outplay Harlequins
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Ulster remained top of Champions Cup Pool Three after a commanding 34-10 victory over Harlequins on Friday, with scrum-half John Cooney scoring 19 points in the win at Twickenham Stoop.
The Irish province got off a good start and edged ahead when the hosts were penalised for not rolling away, allowing Man of the Match Cooney to slot over his first three-pointer.
It would take until the 34th minute before the scoreboard was troubled again. It was Harlequins who levelled the scores, with James Lang kicking a simple penalty kick after penalty advantage was being played by Alexandre Ruiz.
Ulster then grabbed what was a crucial opening try just before the interval.
It cane through Billy Burns who straightened up from inside his own half, releasing Jacob Stockdale who sprinted clear before another hand off to Matt Faddes. He found in-form Cooney who was tackled but did just enough to get over the line, before stepping up and converting his try.
The visitors were a different animal in the second period, scoring a try when in the 46th minute when a lovely kick in behind by Stuart McCloskey released Luke Marshall near the posts and he collected, got back to his feet and powered over the line.
On the hour mark, Cooney spotted a sloppy play at the breakdown from Harlequins inside their own 22 and he kicked away before collecting his tap before bobbing and weaving past two Quins defenders and cutting back to score at the posts in breathtaking fashion.
Stephen Lewies responded for the hosts but it was Ulster who had the last laugh, scoring two tries in the final four minutes through Matt Faddes and Tom O’Toole, bringing up what could turn out to be a vital try bonus point.
Next up for Ulster will be a critical Round Five clash with ASM Clermont Auvergne at Stade Marcel Michelin while Harlequins will host Bath.
Tries: Cooney 2, Marshall, Faddes, O’Toole
Cons: Cooney 3
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 James Lang, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Brett Herron, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Semi Kunatani, 6 Will Evans, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Kyle Sinckler (captain), 2 Elia Elia, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Jack Musk, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Niall Saunders, 22 Paul Lasike, 23 Travis Ismaiel.
Ulster: 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Iain Henderson (captain), 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Alan O’Connor, 20 Matt Rea, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Bill Johnston, 23 Craig Gilroy.
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Cedric Marchat (France), Luc Ramos (France)
TMO: Patrick Dellac (France)