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Ulster beat Harlequins to keep Champions Cup qualification hopes alive

Ulster stayed in the race for European Champions Cup qualification by delivering a six-try thumping of Harlequins.

Tries from Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Charles Piutau, Alan O'Connor, John Cooney and Andrew Trimble set up a 52-24 win for Les Kiss's side, completing back-to-back wins over the English club.

Cooney kicked five conversions and four penalties for a personal haul of 27 points in the contest at the Kingspan Stadium.

Despite the five-day turnaround, Ulster got the result they needed to stay secure in second in Pool One, two points behind runaway leaders La Rochelle - who play at Wasps on Sunday.

It took just four minutes for the hosts to get off the mark when Cooney kicked a penalty near the posts following a strong break by Rob Herring.

The Ulster scrum-half kicked a second penalty in the ninth minute after Winston Stanley was penalised following Marcus Smith's ambitious cross-kick from behind his own line.

But Quins hit back after 14 minutes when Renaldo Bothma intercepted a Piutau pass and although Gilroy did well to get back and haul the number eight down short of the line, the visitors recycled and Smith rounded Cooney to go over in the left corner.

Ulster responded three minutes later when McCloskey crossed after hacking on from a Christian Leali'ifano kick over the top. Cooney added a magnificent conversion from the touchline and Ulster led 13-5.

Craig Walker then had a possible score turned down by the TMO after Jacob Stockdale's last-ditch tackle but almost immediately got in under the posts after a great arcing run. Smith's conversion cut Ulster's lead to 13-12 on the half hour.

Cooney's third penalty made it 16-12 in the 33rd minute - and that was the end of the first half scoring.

Ulster hit the ground running on the restart with Gilroy wriggling over four minutes in and Cooney added another marvellous conversion to put the home side 23-12 ahead.

That became 26-12 in the 50th minute with Cooney's fourth penalty and then five minutes later Piutau barged over for Ulster's third try which saw Cooney miss his first kick of the game after six straight successes from the tee.

Again, though, Quins came back with Ross Chisholm's 58th minute try which went unconverted - but then Kyle Sinckler's yellow card on the hour mark saw the home side score immediately off lock O'Connor, who bagged the bonus point. Cooney's conversion stretched Ulster's lead to 38-17.

Quins then got their bonus try from skipper Dave Ward, with Smith adding the conversion.

However, Ulster got their fifth try from Cooney. which the scrum-half converted to put the home team 45-24 in front.

And the home side brought the half-century of points up when Trimble got over in the corner, with Cooney again converting.

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