Ulster try but falter as Tigers run riot
Ulster coach Mark Anscombe reckoned Saturday afternoon's 30-10 defeat by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road was a warning shot across the bow of his team as to what is required in the next nine months.
Having seen his side outscored four tries to one by opponents whose pack included four Lions – Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling and Tom Croft all started – he said: "It was a good reminder of what you have to do to be able to perform against good teams. You've got to take your chances when they come.
"We had a couple and didn't take them and they took theirs. We were a bit lackadaisical in certain aspects of our game, didn't execute and got our little details wrong. Even with that we created another couple of opportunities to score but simple skill execution let us down.
"They thoroughly deserved their win, no question about that, but I think there's a few reminders there that if we do get things right we can cause some trouble.
"It's a good early-season wakener for us, a reality check if you like, that if you lose sight of what you need to do the opposition can strike and cause damage," Anscombe added.
Early on Leicester lost Toby Flood who was treated for a lengthy period before being stretchered off, with Dan Tuohy sin-binned for use of the forearm in the incident. Ryan Lamb deputised for Flood.
Ulster went 3-0 up when James McKinney landed his second penalty attempt, but then proceeded to ship 18 unanswered points in little over 15 minutes prior to half-time.
Lamb levelled the scores with a penalty awarded against Roger Wilson for a high tackle, whereupon the Tigers promptly went ahead, following Ulster's concession of another penalty.
French scrum-half David Mele took that quickly, catching the guests napping, with Lamb and Vereniki Goneva continuing the passage which ended with full-back Niall Morris scoring.
Ryan's conversion opened up a 10-3 lead which quickly became of 12 points when Mele finished in the corner after a drive from a line-out. Parling initiated that, with Julian Salvi's work in the maul giving the scrum-half space to dive in.
Ryan failed to add the points but was on target with a penalty which left Ulster trailing 18-3 at half-time.
Inside-centre Anthony Allen romped home shortly after the resumption, with Lamb's conversion casting Ulster 22 points adrift.
But with Robbie Diack and Andrew Trimble increasingly prominent, Luke Marshall was stopped just short after a burst, following which Jerome Schuster was carded for slowing the ball's release.
Ulster made that count with Chris Henry forcing his way over and Paddy Jackson converting to make the score 25-10.
But right at the end of a stop-start second half in which Ulster had chances, the Tigers bagged a fourth try when Lamb first put Perry Humphreys through a half gap and then picked out Thomas Waldrom whose pass enabled Sebastian de Chaves to crash over at the left corner.
Meanwhile tickets go on sale this morning for Ulster's Ravenhill Heineken Cup games against Leicester (Friday, October 11) and Treviso (Saturday, December 7) plus the RaboDirect PRO12 fixture against Munster on January 3rd.
These can be purchased online at www.ulsterrugby.com, via Ticketmaster outlets or by calling the 24-hour hotline (08442779964).