Stock­dale’s su­per­show keeps Ul­ster dream alive

The Rugby Paper - - European Champions Cup - By LEE JONES

TWO bonus points in de­feat could be cru­cial for Rac­ing 92 as they chase a home quar­ter­fi­nal, but Ul­ster won their third suc­ces­sive Pool 4 game to give them hopes of the knock-out stages.

Ja­cob Stock­dale ran in tries in each half at Kingspan Sta­dium, while Robert Baloucoune’s opener put Ul­ster on the right track.

Rac­ing scored four tries, but cru­cially Finn Rus­sell missed all three of his con­ver­sions.

Stock­dale said: “This is a mas­sive achieve­ment. To top­ple a French gi­ant like Rac­ing is some­thing spe­cial, but that’s the job only half done. Next week we go to Le­ices­ter and our eyes will be fo­cused on that.”

Less than a minute had elapsed when Billy Burns made it 3-0 from the tee, but there was much more to come for the home side, and af­ter eight min­utes debu­tant Baloucoune fin­ished off a sweep­ing move.

Ul­ster ran in their se­cond when Stock­dale charged over – de­spite a ques­tion­able fi­nal pass from Louis Ludik.

But last year’s run­ner­sup have some real tal­ent and af­ter 21 min­utes. Vir­imi Vakatawa scored af­ter fine work by Henry Cha­vancy.

Will Ad­di­son soon put Ul­ster 16-5 ahead from the tee be­fore Si­mon Zebo slid over to score in the cor­ner to pull Rac­ing within six points.

Ref­eree Mathew Car­ley was forced off at half-time due to a calf in­jury, but Zebo was also hauled off fol­low­ing some first-half treat­ment.

While much of Ul­ster’s game­plan worked well, their li­ne­out was guilty of a cou­ple of vi­tal mis­fires while there was some soft mo­ments on the edge in de­fence.

But eight min­utes af­ter the break they showed their ruth­less streak. From a scrum deep in the own half they moved right then im­me­di­ately left, where Stock­dale shook off a tack­ler. When faced with a scram­bling de­fence he chipped over the top and a kind bounce en­abled him to run in his se­cond.

Rus­sell kicked a 51st minute penalty dead, which epit­o­mised Rac­ing’s for­tunes but just be­fore the hour mark Brice Dulin scored out wide af­ter a pow­er­ful set from the pack, al­though Rus­sell missed the con­ver­sion, which left the deficit at eight points.

The Rac­ing pres­sure con­tin­ued and five min­utes later Olivier Kle­menczak signed off a bril­liant move to score and the con­ver­sion from Teddy Irib­aren cut the deficit to four points but Ul­ster held on.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Tongue-lashed: Ja­cob Stock­dale of Ul­ster scores his se­cond try

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