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Northampton 20 Ulster 24 ratings: Back line sparkles as province book their place in last-16 of Europe


Ulster's Robert Baloucoune tries to shake off Northampton Saints' Rory Hutchinson (David Davies/PA Wire)

Ulster's Robert Baloucoune tries to shake off Northampton Saints' Rory Hutchinson (David Davies/PA Wire)


Ulster's Robert Baloucoune tries to shake off Northampton Saints' Rory Hutchinson (David Davies/PA Wire)

Ulster are into the last-16 of the Heineken Champions Cup after another impressive away performance earned them a 24-20 win over the Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.

Mike Lowry scored twice and was named man of the match, while back three partners Robert Baloucoune and Ethan McIlroy had big outings despite it being a youthful back-line.

Michael Sadlier assesses how they got on...

Starting XV

Mike Lowry – 9

Wonderful pick-up leading to Doak’s score and did excellently to claim Ulster’s third and fourth tries. So composed and sharp he unsurprisingly claimed man of the match.

Robert Baloucoune – 9

Stunning return from injury. Scored the opener and an assist for their second. He was a constant problem for the Saints and helped set up Lowry’s second.

James Hume – 8

Another typically eye-catching effort, he carried with power and intent. Contributed much to demoralising the home side with his work off the ball as well.

Stewart Moore – 8

Big early hit on Biggar allowed him to settle well and he, too, had a strong game which was punctuated by useful carrying, hard tackles and probing kicks.

Ethan McIlroy – 6

Had a quiet enough time in terms of getting the ball but was released by Baloucoune for Lowry’s second when he showed his searing pace.

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Billy Burns – 7

Neat chip for Lowry’s score and very busy throughout the contest with lots of involvement in the attacking shape. Appeared to be going well when replaced.

Nathan Doak – 8

First European start and produced a lovely support run for his try. Looked pretty sharp and was frequently willing to take the attack to Saints.

Andrew Warwick – 4

Nice support run for Baloucoune’s try but took an early knock and left early for an HIA from which the loose-head prop did not return.

Rob Herring – 7

Some strong close-in work when carrying but also put in a determined full 80 minute shift and was not found wanting in his defensive duties.

Marty Moore – 7

An early scrum penalty and hard-hitting tackle but then was flattened by Nansen. Still, he kept going and produced a quality hour of work.

Alan O’Connor – 6

The starting skipper produced his usual commitment when it came to duties up in the frontline where Ulster kept up the pressure and acquitted themselves well.

Kieran Treadwell – 7

One strong carry in the Saints’ 22 and kept grinding away for the game’s full term in what was a performance full of physicality and attitude.

Marcus Rea – 7

Produced a big tackle count at Franklin’s Gardens and did his job well without producing anything too flashy. This was gutsy stuff against the likes of Lawes.

Nick Timoney – 8

The go-to guy to either clear something up, knock an opponent down or produce a burst of speed when carrying. Much more prominent than last time out.

Duane Vermeulen – 6

He doesn’t quite explode into games a la Coetzee, but he does graft hard and put his body in difficult places to go. Still to hit full throttle.


Eric O’Sullivan (for Warwick, 14mins) – 7

A strong effort with good carrying

Tom O’Toole (for M Moore, 58mins) – 6

Good support play

Sam Carter (for O’Connor, 58mins) – 5

Took over the captaincy

Greg Jones (for Rea, 67mins) – 5

Quiet enough in the endgame

David Shanahan (for Doak, 59mins) – 4

Understandably a little rusty

Ian Madigan (for Burns, 56mins) – 4

Will want to forget his tap and go

Not used: John Andrew, Ben Moxham.

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