Belfast Telegraph

Frustration as Ulster Rugby fail to get vital bonus point

By Niall Crozier

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.

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.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph