Stockdale’s supershow keeps Ulster dream alive
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.
Tongue-lashed: Jacob Stockdale of Ulster scores his second try