Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 April 2016

Frustration as Ulster Rugby fail to get vital bonus point

By Niall Crozier

Published 11/01/2014

Robbie Diack goes over for a fine try early in the game, but Ulster failed to get the four-try haul they needed
Robbie Diack goes over for a fine try early in the game, but Ulster failed to get the four-try haul they needed

It's not often Ulster fans go home disappointed after their team has won a match at Ravenhill.

But they couldn't help feeling that last night was a big opportunity lost by Mark Anscombe's men.

Paddy Jackson is tackled by Enzo Selponi during Friday's Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast Pic Charles McQuillan
Paddy Jackson is tackled by Enzo Selponi during Friday's Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast Pic Charles McQuillan
10/1/2014. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Andrew Trimble loses control of the ball during this evenings Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. PICTURE CHARLES MCQUILLAN/PACEMAKER.
10/1/2014. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Andrew Trimble loses control of the ball during this evenings Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. PICTURE CHARLES MCQUILLAN/PACEMAKER.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ulster's Johann Muller (c) wins the ball in the line
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ruan Pienaar dives over for Ulster's second try
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Nick Williams and Luke Marshall with Ruan Pienaar dives over for Ulster's second try
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ruan Pienaar dives over for Ulster's second try
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ulster's Robbie Diack scores in the corner
10/1/2014. PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. Robbie Diack goes over for a try during this evenings Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. PICTURE CHARLES MCQUILLAN/PACEMAKER.
Paddy Jackson is tackled by Enzo Selponi during Friday's Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Pic Charles McQuillan
Paddy Jackson is tackled by Enzo Selponi during Friday's Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Pic Charles McQuillan
Dan Touhy is tackled by Johnnie Beattie during Friday's Heineken Cup Pool 5 game between Ulster and Montpellier at Ravenhill. Pic Charles McQuillan
Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ulster's John Afoa. Pic John Afoa
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ulster's Paddy Jackson
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ulster's Dan Tuohy is tackled by Montpellier's Johnnie Beattie
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Ulster's Dan Tuohy is tackled by Montpellier's Johnnie Beattie
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th January 2014 Mandatory Credit - Darren Kidd /Presseye.com Heineken Cup Pool 5, Ulster v Montpellier at Ravenhill, Belfast. Montpellier's Eric Escande

Ulster saw off Montpellier 27-16, but their failure to get a bonus point against the French visitors means the Ravenhill men are still not guaranteed a Heineken Cup quarter-final place – despite winning all five games in Pool 5 of the competition so far.

The bonus point needed to clinch a last-eight berth looked very much on in the early stages of the game after tries from Robbie Diack and Ruan Pienaar put Ulster 14-3 ahead.

And when John Afoa went over in the second half, it looked inevitable.

But sustained pressure failed to yield that crucial fourth try – and that means next week's game against Leicester will probably be a pool decider.

The Tigers will pip Ulster for top spot if they earn a bonus-point victory over Treviso in Italy today and then win at Welford Road next Saturday.

"We are disappointed at not getting the bonus point," admitted Pienaar afterwards.

"We had our chances but didn't take them, and we gave away too many opportunities to them."

He added: "Once we got those two tries early in the game it was in our minds that the bonus point was on, but it wasn't to be."

Ulster, however, remain strong favourites to qualify from Pool 5 – and they could even have qualification secured this weekend, depending on other results.

But this was not one of their better performances, and head coach Anscombe will be hoping last night's 'so-close-but-yet-so far scenario' will not come back to haunt him.

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