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Ulster v Harlequins player ratings: Who impressed as province continue unbeaten European run?

Man of the match Stuart McCloskey bursts the tackle of Harlequins lock Tevita Cavubati in Ulster's 25-24 win at Kingspan Stadium (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Man of the match Stuart McCloskey bursts the tackle of Harlequins lock Tevita Cavubati in Ulster's 25-24 win at Kingspan Stadium (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

By Michael Sadlier

It took a dramatic late penalty from John Cooney to rescue victory for Ulster against Harlequins at Kingspan Stadium in a thrilling game in Belfast.

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Stuart McCloskey was named man of the match, but who else impressed for Dan McFarland's side as they kept their unbeaten run going in Europe?

Here, Michael Sadlier assesses the good and the bad of the performance:

Starting team

Jacob Stockdale: Picked there to presumably see more action and though he did see more ball there was no real game-turning moment from him. Tried one nice counter from deep that nearly came off. 6

Louis Ludik: He was dependable and he managed some important tackles as Quins turned up the heat in the game. There was one missed high kick which is a rare thing indeed. 6

Luke Marshall: Some nice touches though didn’t always find his man. Ended up playing a solid game and provided the assist for Stuart McCloskey’s vital score early in the second half. 7

Stuart McCloskey: Lost the ball in contact near the line and it seemed that this might define his game. But he came roaring back and was Ulster’s top ball-carrier and smashed over for a try too. 7

Craig Gilroy: He might not have made the starting side had Robert Baloucoune been fit and there were elements of the game which didn’t really work out for him in this tense affair. 5

Billy Burns: Another trademark cross-kick for Reidy’s try which picked put McCloskey beautifully. He also had to, as usual, put his body on the line which he did reasonably well. 7

John Cooney: Well he did it again didn’t he? Should have released Ludik for potential score in the first half but didn’t let it define him nor indeed the intercept for Quins’ first score. 6

Eric O'Sullivan: An early knock-on didn’t look great and then the scrums began to creak a bit. His six carries didn’t result in many metres being made but ground it out. 6

Rob Herring: He made a great jackal on Kunatani and ended up making 11 tackles in what was a hugely physical game without much in the way of frills from either side really. 7

Marty Moore: Threw a forward pass to Herring and them seemed to ship a knock which seemed to curtail his performance somewhat in the contest with Joe Marler. Still he made 11 tackles. 6

Alan O'Connor: Will be disappointed at Quins’ first try and, for him, he had a fairly quiet type of game when he would have wanted to show his usual flare for physicality. 5

Iain Henderson: A typical turnover led to Reidy’s score and the skipper went on to make 13 carries and 10 tackles to take on the mantle from Marcell Coetzee who had a knock. 7

Sean Reidy: Did well to be in the right place at the right time for his try. There was also one really strong carry and topped Ulster’s tackle count with 13 hits. 7

Jordi Murphy: Missed one pass which could have created a score and worked hard without necessarily dominating the game in the way he would have liked. Is sure to be better in London. 6

Marcell Coetzee: As usual, was in the thick of it from the off but then he appeared to ship a knock and wasn’t the same after that. Made 15 carries without making very much ground. 6

The coach

Dan McFarland: Now has gone three from three in Europe which has put Ulster in a great place. His side ground out another result and that is all that counts really. 7

Replacements

Kieran Treadwell (for O’Connor, 58 mins): one bad missed tackle was costly 4; Matthew Rea (for Coetzee, 60 mins): Made an impact 6; Adam McBurney (for Herring, 60 mins): Got a vital try 6; Tom O’Toole (for Moore, 73 mins): Helped the cause 6; Matt Faddes (for Gilroy, 73 mins): Made one half break 5.

Not used: Andy Warwick, Bill Johnston, Dave Shanahan

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