Champions Cup: Wasps v Ulster

Ulster take on Wasps in Coventry knowing a win will secure their place in the last-eight

Patrick Madden Sun, Jan 21
LIVE: Champions Cup: Wasps v Ulster

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ulster's final Champions Cup pool fixure against Wasps.

    Les Kiss's side are currently in pole position in Pool One, thanks to a heroic win over La Rochelle last weekend.

    A victory in Coventry today will guarantee their place in the competition's last-eight, while a losing bonus point might also do the trick.

    The weather has ravaged sport in Ireland this afternoon, with Munster's clash against Castres postponed until 4.0 due to hevay rain in Limerick.

    Meanwhile across the water England has been hit by snow storms all morning - but we're all set for the scheduled 3.15 kick off at the Ricoh Arena.

    We'll be bringing you all the action throughout the afternoon - fingers crossed Ulster's European journey is just getting started.

    Come on!!!

  • Wasps: W le Roux; C Wade, K Eastmond, J de Jongh, M Watson; D Cipriani, D Robson; S McIntyre, T Cruse, J Cooper-Woolley; J Launchbury (capt), J Gaskell; J Willis, G Thompson, N Carr. Replacements: A Johnson, B Harris, M Moore, K Myall, T Young, J Simpson, R Miller, B Macken.

    Ulster: C Piutau; L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Best (capt), R Ah You; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; I Henderson, S Reidy, N Timoney. Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, W Herbst, M Rea, C Henry, D Shanahan, J McPhillips, R Lyttle.

    Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

  • In Pool Four Leicester Tigers are currently drawing 20-20 with Racing 92.  

    If Leicester can sneak it then Ulster can lose and still qualify for the last-eight. However, it would also mean a bonus-point win for Wasps would see them qualify in second place.

  • Racing now lead 23-20 with four minutes to go.
  • Into the 80th minute at Welford Road and Leicester have a five-metre scrum, still 23-20 to Racing.


  • Right then, on to the matter at hand. Ulster's job hasn't changed - beat Wasps and qualification is secured.  
  • The current state of play with three pool fixtures remaining.
  • Ulster are missing Craig Gilroy this afternoon after he fractured his cheekbone in last weekend's win in Belfast. Darren Cave replaces him in midfield with Louis Ludik moving to the wing, where he's joined by Charles Piutau and Jacob Stockdale in the back three. Rory Best captain the side with Iain Henderson starting at six - the weather is filthy, so the pack will need to produce.

    There's also a final appearance in an Ulster shirt for Christian  Lealiifano before he returns to Australia to join up with the Brumbies. He's up against Danny Cipriani this afternoon - an intruguing contest.

  • Here come the teams at the Ricoh!
  • Cipriani to get us underway, we're off!
  • 1 min: Ulster field the kick and Piutau carries it back into contact, before Best has a little rumble. White jerseys turned brown already.  Lealiifano clears but there's a knock on from Cooney as he challenges. Wasps scrum just inside Ulster territory.
  • 2 min: The pitch is a bit of a mire but Wasps make full use of it, spinning the ball through the hands and out to Wade on the right wing. Launchbury makes a good carry but Willis is pinged for offside.  Lealiifano kicks for an Ulster lineout.
  • 4 min: Good ball off the top and they move it right,  Lealiifano bringing Best into play on a good inside line. Wasps slow it down and Cooney kicks from the base, Le Roux claiming the high ball well.
  • 5 min: Gaskell caught offside as Robson clears with a boxkick.  Lealiifano finds touch and Ulster have a lineout on the 22.
  • 6 min: Best hits Reidy and Ulster set the maul but don't get much traction so Cooney moves it left. Good ball retention until Ah You barrels into the Wasps 22 and spills it forward in the tackle. Wasps try to play their way out of trouble through Le Roux but the visitor's cover is good. Back for the scrum.
  • 7 min: Solid set piece and Robson clears well, the ball beating Piutau and bouncing into touch.
  • 8 min: Best's lineout is pinched by Gaskell, Wasps ball inside the Ulster 10-metre. They move it left and Wade tries to engineer space for Watson on the wing but Piutau covers well. Penalty advantage for Wasps.
  • 9 min: Wasps need tries so Cipriani nudges the penalty into touch. Gaskell secures the lineout just outside the Ulster five, Wasps have another penalty coming.
  • 10 MIN: WASPS 0 ULSTER 0
  • 10 min: Good scrambling Ulster defence, Reidy locking in over the top. Wasps are forced to move it wide where Cipriani controls a loose pass well. back for the Wasps penalty which is kicked back into touch.
  • TRY WASPS!!!
  • Wasps win the five-metre lineout and set the maul. They get rumbling quickly with a pod splintering off, Thompson touching down.

    Good conversion from Cipriani.

    12 MIN: WASPS 7 ULSTER 0

  • 14 min: A Cooney box kick draws another fantastic aerial take from Le Roux. Ulster concede a penaly on halfway which Cipriani nudges down the line.
  • 15 min: Good ball retention form Wasps, fizzing it through the hands nicely despite the conditions. The move breaks down as Le Roux tries to flick a ball to Wade on the left and it goes forward.
  • 17 min: Solid Ulster scrum and Stockdale and Cave combine well in midfield to get their side up to halfway. Try scorer Thompson conceded a penalty on halfway which  Lealiifano kicks into touch.

    Bad news for Ulster, Stockdale has taken a knock and he's limping off, Rob Lyttle coming on. Looks like a dead leg.

  • 18 min: Wasps counter after McCloskey knocks on Cooney's pass, but Watson runs the wrong line and the hosts run out of space on the left, Le Roux's pass drifting into touch.
  • 20 MIN: WASPS 7 ULSTER 0
  • 20 min: Slick from Ulster and they play their way up to the Wasps 22 but Wade smashes  Lealiifano and the ball goes loose, Lyttle covering after Carr hacks forward. Good pressure over the ball from the hosts and they win a penalty which Cipriani again sends into touch.
  • 21 min: Ball back inside to Robson who makes a darting little break up towards the Ulster five-metre. Scrambling Ulster defence but they reset well, O'Connor shunting Gaskell back with a big tackle. Wasps spin it to the right where Carr knocks it forward.
  • TRY ULSTER!!!!!
  • Le Roux fields a kick in midfield but then throws a loose pass to Wade. Wade recovers but then runs infield and is collared, before throwing a suicidal pass to Ludik. Ludik carries up to the 22 and finds Cave, who offloads to Reidy. Reidy is tackled short but the wet surface sees his momentum carry him over the line.

    Cooney converts - all square out of nothing.

    25 MIN: WASPS 7 ULSTER 7

  • 26 min: Neat hands in midfield from Wasps and Le Roux creates space for Watson on the left wing, but he can't hold onto the pass.
  • 28 min: Great squeeze from the Ulster pack and they win a scrum penalty.  Lealiifano finds a good touch on the Wasps 22. Good platform.
  • 29 min: Ulster win the lineout but Timoney receives the ball from a standing start and is smashed by Willis and loses the ball. The Wasps flanker got his head on the wrong side there, there's a break in play as he receives treatment.
  • In France La Rochelle are currently leading Harlequins 8-0.
  • 30 MIN: WASPS 7 ULSTER 7
  • 30 min: Willis is fine to continue and Wasps get munched in the scrum but are reprieved with a penalty. Strange decision. Cipriani finds touch outside the Ulster 22.
  • 31 min: Slick play from the Wasps backline and they release the flying Wade on the right. He tries to stand up Ludik but the Ulster wing holds onto a leg brilliantly to bring him down. Huge tackle.  
  • TRY WASPS!!!
  • Wasps pressing inside the Ulster 22. The ball goes forward from a Le Roux pass but it came off de Jongh's face rather than his hands. The hosts have a penalty advantage but don't need it, Le Roux spies space on the left and puts in a cute chip over the Ulster line.

    The ball bounces nicely and hooker Cruse is there to gather and touch down with a flying finish befitting of a wing. Great score - although the hooker deserves fining for having the audacity to be out that wide in the first place.

    Cipriani nails the touchline conversion.

    34 MIN: WASPS 14 ULSTER 7

  • 35 min: Cipriani stitches a brilliant kick in behind the visitors and up to the 22. Bests hits Henderson and Cooney can relieve a bit of pressure from the base.

    Excellent kickchase from Ulster, and Best locks on over the ball after Willis is tackled to earn his side a penalty.

  • 37 min: The Ricoh crowd are treated to a generous glimpse of Henderson's backside as he's hauled down by his shorts in midfield. He makes good yards despite the wardrobe malfunction.
  • 38 min: Wasps turn Ulster over on their 22 and Cipriani finds another good kick in behind the visitors.

    La Rochelle have scored again and lead Harlequins 13-0.

  • 40 min: Ulster win their lineout and a couple of big carries gives them some breathing space before Cooney clears. Cooney then kicks again but it's out on the full.

    Blow for Ulster, Ludik is off injured and replace by Johnny McPhillips. The visitors are down to the bare bones now.

  • We're back underway!!!
  • 41 min: Nice gather and jinking run from McPhillips gains Ulster some momentum. Aggressive defence from Wasps though and there's a knock on on the deck. Scrum to the hosts just inside their half.
  • 43 min: The pitch is like a park on a Sunday morning now but it isn't slowing Wasps down - lovely midfield loop from Cipriani and Robson and Watson bursts into the Ulster half.
  • 44 min: 10 phases up for Wasps and they're up to the 22. Patient play and space opens up on the right, Le Roux finding Carr who gives it to the flying Watson. Stunning dummy from Le Roux as the play comes back left and he breaks the line, but then throws a looping league-style pass to Thompson and he is forced out. le Roux should have gone himself.
  • 45 min: Turns out its a five-metre scrum to Ulster - Thompsons's attempted pass back inside went forward. The visitor's scrum comes under pressure but Timoney secures it at the back.  
  • TRY WASPS!!!
  • There's a huge scrap for the ball inside the Ulster five-metre and Launchbury burgles it. Wasps have men outside and Cipriani flips a brilliant, wide pass out to Le Roux. Rather than move it thorugh the hands he angles his run to the far corner and slides in to score.

    Cipriani's conversion just misses on the left. Another Wasps score and they could potentially qualify.

    49 MIN: WASPS 19 ULSTER 7

  • 49 min: Harlequins have scored in France - La Rochelle lead 13-7. Meanwhile at Thomond Park Munster are tied 3-3 with Castres after 22 mins.
  • 50 MIN: WASPS 19 ULSTER 7
  • 51 min: Ulster secure their scrum ball on halfway and Piutau is brought into the line but is well marshalled. The visitors haven't enjoyed any real spell of possession or territory. Poor kick from  Lealiifano goes out into touch on the full on the left. Wasps move it but then McCloskey steals it well on the Ulster 22.
  • 52 min: Ulster back under serious pressure after hooker Cruse reads a miss pass well and intercepts it on the bounce. Wasps have men over on the left but De Jongh is held up. Le Roux then throws a loose pass and Cooney hacks it upfield - but there was a knock on from an Ulster hand.
  • 53 min: Wasps split their backline but use the open side from the scrum, the ball worked through the hands out to Watson on the left wing. The hosts on the ball inside the Ulster 22 with a penalty advantage.
  • 55 min: The ball goes loose and Cipriani sticks the penalty into touch on the five. Huge play coming up.
  • 56 min: The Ulster pack do well to stymie the Wasps maul, forcing them to move it right.
  • TRY WASPS!!!
  • Simple, efficient stuff from Wasps. They move it right then come back left, prop Cooper-Walley taking a short ball from Robson and crashing over the line near the posts. Ulster can't get a foothold in this at all.

    Cipriani knocks over the conversion.

    57 MIN: WASPS 26 ULSTER 7

  • 60 MIN: WASPS 26 ULSTER 7
  • 60 min: Ulster earn a scrum penalty on the left and Cooney taps it quickly. Ulster possession on halfway,  Lealiifano finding McCloskey on a deeper line and he crashes into contact. But then after a few phases Wasps enforce the turnover and Robson clears to Cooney, who is wrapped up by Le Roux.
  • 61 min: Wasps' handling has been good but prop McIntyre spills a simple one in midfield. For Wasps to qualify they need Harlequins or Castres to get a result - La Rochelle lead 16-7, Munster are winning 13-3.
  • 62 min: Finally a glimpse from Ulster, Piutau engineering space for McPhillips on the left and he makes good grund before cutting back inside. It's then recycled to Piutau who carries the contact and delivers more clean ball.  

    But then  Lealiifano knocks it forward with Ulster pressing. Sums Ulster's afternoon up.

  • 64 min: Piutau does well on the left to keep the ball alive and find McPhillips. Cooney then gets caught in two minds at the base and gets absolutely swamped by Wasps cover. Ulster secure it though and it's moved to  Lealiifano, who gets smashed late by Harris. Ulster penalty, which is kicked into touch.
  • 65 min: Launchbury pinches the Ulster lineout on the Wasps 22.
  • 65 MIN: WASPS 26 ULSTER 7
  • 66 min: Ulster have only been on the ball inside the Wasps 22 twice in the entire game. A damning statistic. The visitors have the ball on halfway but this time Henderson spills it forward in the tackle. This is getting very messy.
  • 67 min: Wasps penalty for a late smash on Launchbury by O'Connor, which Cipriani sends to touch. Marty Moore now on for Wasps against his future employers.
  • 69 min: Sustained Wasps pressure inside the Ulster 22. They're up to 13 phases and looking after the slippery ball brilliantly.

    And as I say that Herring burrows his way in to force a turnover - before Ulster instantly concede a penalty after good work from Young. D'oh.

  • 70 MIN: WASPS 26 ULSTER 7
  • 71 min: Henderson steals the Wasps lineout and knocks it down for Warwick, who knocks on.
  • 72 min: Solid Wasps scrum and Carr recycles it to Robson who finds De Jongh. Short ball to Robson who knocks it forward, and Ulster finally get out of their 22. This has been a bit flat since Wasps got their bonus point try - both sides are pretty much condemned to their fate.
  • 73 min:  Lealiifano is limping off. A sad end to a fine spell with Ulster. the sun of Canberra will make for a nice change compared to the sludge of Coventry.
  • 74 min: A much needed spell of possession for Ulster in midfield, McPhillips angling a run back inside and back across halfway. Ulster penalty, sent for touch inside the Wasps 22.
  • 75 min: Ulster secure the lineout and the maul gets dragged down on the five-metre. They retain the ball well though and are hammering away, desperate Wasps defence. And when it finally looks like they might get a score, Henry spills a short ball.
  • 77 min: Ciprinai's clearance doesn't find touch and Ulster run it back, Piutau making a big carry. Ulster retaining it well until a wide ball is thrown out to Henry on the left wing, and he knocks on again.  
  • 79 min: Good Wasps move from the scrum and they move it through the hands to Macken who nearly gets on the outside shoulder but is dragged into touch on the left.
  • 80 min: One last go for Ulster, Lyttle making a good little burst in the middle of the park. Ulster kick and Le Roux covers and hoofs it into touch.
  • Right thanks for joining this afternoon, the report from Coventry will be along shortly.