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La Rochelle break Ulster hearts with last-gasp try

CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Joel Sclavi’s 81st-minute try cost Ulster a famous Champions Cup victory over defending champions Stade Rochelais, as they fell to a 3-7 defeat in Pool B at the Stade Marcel Deflandre on Saturday.

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Sclavi powered over from close range in added time as La Rochelle stole victory from the jaws of defeat in turgid conditions – the weather playing a huge factor in the contest.

A Nathan Doak penalty for Ulster had given them a 3-0 lead in a game of very few scoring chances, but the Irish province were unable to hold off the determined hosts in the final seconds of the contest.

With rain and wind gusting around the Stade Marcel Deflandre, the first half was one of handling errors and missed opportunities.

Both sides had chances to take the lead from the tee, Antoine Hastoy clanging an effort off the post before Doak narrowly missed a long-range effort.

Ulster controlled a lot of the territory in the first half and did knock on the door of the La Rochelle tryline, forcing referee Nika Amashukeli to send Paul Boudehent to the sin bin for persistent infringements. Despite the pressure, La Rochelle held firm to go into the break scoreless.

The second half brought more of the same, with Doak’s 64th minute looking set to be the difference between the two sides.

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But alas, Sclavi rumbled over from close range after a number of phases near the Ulster line, the reigning champions securing their berth in the Round of 16 with the late score.

Ulster sit 10th in Pool B with three points from three games and will need a victory at home against Sale Sharks next Saturday to have any hope of reaching the knockout stage. La Rochelle travel to Northampton Saints on the same day in their Round Four clash.

The scorers:

For La Rochelle
Try: Sclavi
Con: Hastoy

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For Ulster:
Pen: Doak

Yellow card: Pierre Boudehent (La Rochelle, 32′)

Teams:

La Rochelle: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 UJ Seuteni, 12 Jules Favre, 11 Pierre Boudehent, 10 Antoine Hastoy, 9 Thomas Berjon, 8 Grégory Alldritt (captain), 7 Paul Boudehent, 6 Remi Bourdeau, 5 Rémi Picquette, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Georges Henri Colombe, 2 Samuel Lagrange, 1 Thierry Paiva.
Replacements: 16 Quentin Lespiaucq Brettes, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Romain Sazy, 20 Kyle Hatherell, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Pierre Popelin, 23 Raymond Rhule.

Ulster: 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Rob Lyttle, 13 Stewart Moore, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Iain Henderson (captain), 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Andy Warwick, 19 Harry Sheridan, 20 David McCann, 21 Michael McDonald, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Ethan McIlroy.

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant Referees: Alex Thomas (England) & Charlie Gayther (England)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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