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Ulster 34 Clermont 31 ratings: Ireland stars lay down markers ahead of Six Nations as province soar into last-16

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Ulster centre James Hume is tackled by Clermont prop Etienne Falgoux (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ulster centre James Hume is tackled by Clermont prop Etienne Falgoux (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Ulster centre James Hume is tackled by Clermont prop Etienne Falgoux (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ulster have secured second place in Pool A of the Heineken Champions Cup as they produced a remarkable 34-31 win over Clermont at Kingspan Stadium, holding off a late comeback.

Ireland centre James Hume had another game which showcased his growing talents as a potential Six Nations bolter, fly half Billy Burns pulled the strings, while Nick Timoney continues his fantastic form at flanker.

Adam McKendry rates all the individual performances...

Starting XV

Mike Lowry - 8

You can argue what his best position is all day long but the facts are he is an extremely good full-back. Had the Clermont defence guessing all night.

Robert Baloucoune - 7

Wasn't as prominent as he was at Franklin's Gardens a week ago but still showcased his ability to step in a phonebooth and took his try well.

James Hume - 8

Can't do much more to convince Andy Farrell he needs time during the Six Nations. His ability to make yards when it seems like he can't is incredible.

Angus Curtis - 7

Making his first European start, this wasn't a bad performance. Was unlucky he was tap tackled after a good break, didn't put a foot wrong after that.

Ethan McIlroy - 7

Had a couple of good involvements and was solid under the high ball. Restricted opposite number Marvin O'Connor to a spectator's role all night.

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Billy Burns - 8

His best game in an Ulster jersey? His decision-making was spot on and brought a lot of variety to the line with some great carries too. A fine outing.

Nathan Doak - 7

Got his goal-kicking right after a couple of early misses and provided the quick ball that the back line needed to thrive throughout the game. Still can grow, too.

Eric O'Sullivan - 7

Was prominent with ball in hand and, besides one scrum, was solid at the set-piece. Given his lack of game time prior to last week, should be very happy.

Rob Herring - 8

Bar one misfire he executed at the lineout when required and added a very strong all-round display around that, and not just in scoring the two tries.

Marty Moore - 7

Played the role of the link-man between forwards and backs to perfection and threatened to force a few line-breaks that almost came off.

Alan O'Connor - 7

Rarely stands out, but you know he's in there grinding hard in everything he does, which allows others to steal the headlines. The glue of this team.

Kieran Treadwell - 8

Celebrated being called up to the Ireland squad with a brilliant display that led the pack. Some massive carries and a thumping hit or two for good measure.

Marcus Rea - 7

Started slowly but grew into the game, particularly in the early stages of the second half, and was one of the more influential players in that period.

Nick Timoney - 8

Is now the go-to man in this pack for ball carrying and continues to put his body on the line week after week. Outplayed Dessaigne comprehensively.

Duane Vermeulen - 7

Started to take a bit more of the carrying on his shoulders in this game and will be thrilled to finally get his first try in an Ulster jersey.

Replacements

Brad Roberts (for Herring, 74 mins) - 5

Wasn't on long but won the only lineout he needed to

Jack McGrath (for O'Sullivan, 68 mins) - 5

Spent most of his time since coming on having to retreat

Tom O'Toole (for Moore, 55 mins) - 6

Made himself busy but got on the wrong side of the ref on occasion

Sam Carter (for O'Connor, 63 mins) - 5

Gave away one penalty as the tide was turning against them

Greg Jones (for Vermeulen, 55 mins) - 6

Did some good work but wasn't as prominent as the other back rowers

David Shanahan (for Doak, 65 mins) - 6

Kept the pace up and ran a good support line on Lowry

Ben Moxham (for Curtis, 60 mins) - 5

Clermont started getting a lot of purchase in the centre once he came on

Craig Gilroy (for Burns, 68 mins) - 6

Was left chasing shadows due to defensive gaps elsewhere


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