Ulster add to Irish celebrations
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Ulster made it a three-peat for Irish provinces in the crucial Round Five.
Ulster enhanced their quarterfinal prospects with a 26-22 Pool Four victory over Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.
It was a tremendous start for the home side, who won the early penalty kick inside the Racing half, allowing Billy Burns to give Ulster a 3-0 lead.
Robert Baloucoune on his European debut then scored Ulster’s first try of the match, showing great hands and awareness to speed away towards the corner.
The Irish province extended their lead on 13 minutes with a splendid passing move and it eventually found that man Jacob Stockdale who cruised past the final Racing defender and dived over the line.
Racing 92 did hit back immediately through Virimi Vakatawa, breaking three tackles as he battled over the try line but Finn Russell missed the conversion.
Minutes later, Ulster had a kickable penalty and Will Addison this time slotted over for three points.
Simon Zebo was the next man to dive over as he managed to weave past Addison and dot the ball down as he was approaching the touchline, staying in play with some superb agility.
A sensational score from Jacob Stockdale opened up the second half as he stepped out of the tackle, clipped a delightful ball over two Racing defenders, beating them both in the chase and dived over the try line.
Racing was not done yet though and scored two quick-fire tries through Brice Dulin and replacement Oliver Klemenczak, but only one of the conversions could be made so Ulster remained one point ahead.
The French side thought they had the go-ahead try with two minutes to play but the final pass went forward, allowing Ulster to see out the final minutes and secure the victory with a successful Addison penalty kick.
Racing 92 can clinch Pool Four and a spot in the quarter-finals with a win over Scarlets in Round Six, while Ulster will take on Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
Tries: Baloucoune, Stockdale 2
Pens: Burns, Addison 2
For Racing 92:
Tries: Vakatawa, Zebo, Dulin, Klemenczak
Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Will Addison, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Sean Reidy, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Nick Timoney, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Michael Lowry, 23 Darren Cave,
Racing 92: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Simon Zebo, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Henry Chavancy, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski (captain), 1 Guram Gogichashvili.
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Georges Henri Colombe, 19 Boris Palu, 20 Fabien Sanconnie, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Olivier Klemenczak, 23 Ben Volavola.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Andrew Jackson (England), Wayne Falla (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)