Champions Cup: Ulster v Leicester

Belfast clash looks a must-win game for Ulster and Leicester’s most winnable away game

Johnny Watterson Sat, Oct 13
LIVE: Champions Cup: Ulster v Leicester

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  • A Leinster rampage against Wasps on Friday and a hard dug out draw from Munster in Sandy Park against top Premiership side Exeter. Can Ulster carry the good Irish form in the first round of European matches? Geordan Murphy and his Leicester side are not the titans of English rugby that they once were. But the two times winners bring threat to Kingspan Stadium. There are no changes yet to the named teams to follow.
  • Kick-off 5.30pm

    ULSTER: M Lowry; C Gilroy, W Addison, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; A Warwick, R Best (captain), R Kane; A O’Connor, I Henderson; M Coetzee, J Murphy, N Timoney. Replacements: A McBurney, E O’Sullivan, M Moore, K Treadwell, S Reidy, D Shanahan, A Curtis, A Kernohan.
  • LEICESTER TIGERS: Jonah Holmes; Adam Thompstone, Manu Tuilagi, Kyle Eastmond, Jordan Olowofela; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Greg Bateman, Tom Youngs (captain), Dan Cole, Mike Williams, Harry Wells; Guy Thompson, Brendon O’Connor, Sione Kalamafoni. Replacements: Tatafu Polota-Nau, David Feao, Joe Heyes, Sam Lewis, Tommy Reffell, Sam Harrison, Matt Toomuu, Gareth Owen.

    Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France).
  • Both coaches are making their European debuts, Leicester's Geordan Murphy and Dan McFarland at Ulster.

    "Look at the Ulster side they have brought in four of five bodies who have been resting. We know it is going to be intense," Murphy.
  • Eyes will be on Michael Lowry today. He's normally a 10 but the 20-year-old has been slotted in as Ulster fullback against some international players from Leicester. It is a gamble from McFarland who is backing his young talent.
  • Tournament best: Ulster – Champions (1999). Leicester – Champions (2000, 2001).

    Previous meetings: (2003-04) Ulster 33 Leicester 0, Leicester 49 Ulster 7. (2011-12) Leicester 20 Ulster 9, Ulster 41 Leicester 7. (2013-14) Ulster 22 Leicester 16, Leicester 19 Ulster 22. (2014-15) Leicester 25 Ulster 18, Ulster 26 Leicester 7.
  • Kick-off from Leicester on a super soft rain drenched Belfast pitch.
  • First linreout Leicester who use it to push into the Ulster half. Leicester set for a few recycles but Tuilagi shuffled into touch by Stockdale. Just the right man for the job.
  • Ulster penalty and the ball is cleared to touch. Henderson will eye up this one for Ulster possession in the Leicester half.
    Possession secure and McCloskey bashes up and Burns puts a deft kick into the Leicester corner forcing them to play out.
  • Burns again with a kick over the Leicester defence. Rain is falling again on a really greasy pitch. There will be errors in this match.
  • 9 mins - Yes it is a ball in hand game. There is really no way around it given the conditions. Any idea of a passing expansive game has been forgotten as Ulster push into the Leicester 22.
  • 11- The ball hasn't moved much either way. Leicester have earned a scrum mid pitch. It's not a good one for Ulster and they fold. Leicester penalty. Dan Cole looks a happy man.
  • 14 mins -Leicester find good field poisiton from a lineout inside the Ulster red zone. A high kick up to test fullback Lowry and he knocks on. Scrum Leicester in front of the posts.Lose pass back from Ben Youngs and Ulster breathe again.
  • 16 - mins First kickable penalty of the match as Ulster infringe in the scrum in front of the posts. George Ford lines it up. It's an easy one. He kicks and it's good.
    Ulster 0 Leicester 3
  • 19 mins -A little ingenuity from Billy Burns cuts through the midfield for Ulster but Leicester tun it over and Ford sends a high one onto Lowry again. This time it's good from the rookie fullback. But there is a pattern emerging here to put pressure on Lowry with high balls.
  • 19 mins Ulster 0 Leicester 3
  • The Ulster scrum is coming under pressure. Rory Best is world class said Stephen Ferris before the match but it is no good unless they work as a unit.
  • 22 mins Ford YELLOW after a great break froward from Lowry. Looks like a high tackle on the fullback but it is expensive from Leicester. That could have been a penalty try.
  • 24 mins - Timoney breaks from the Ulster scrum and makes great ground towards the Leicester posts. The ball is recycled out to Gilroy and the wing and he pounds forwards and touches down. But his body is in touch and the lineout goes to Leicester.
  • 26 mins -Ulster pressure now and they have a lineout. They gather and get a rolling maul going. The ball is fed wide left to Stockdale but Leicester turn it over and Youngs puts in a pressure kick to get the ball away. That's a wasted chance for Ulster.
  • 30 mins -There's another high tackle and the referee's arm goes out but play goes on. Greg Bateman infringes on the ground. Penalty Ulster and they chose to kick to touch. The ball is gathered by Ulster but there is a heap of bodies and Leicester turn it over. Youngs box kick to safety is accurate again.
  • 31 mins - Another scrum and again Ulster crumble. This is becoming problematic. It's a penalty to Leicester and again they kick to touch with Ford in the bin.
    Ford is back on the pitch and Ulster scored zero points with Leicester a man down.
  • 34 mins -Bateman, Wells, and Leicester are bashing towards the Ulster posts. But Jordi Murphy comes in with a huge turnover on Kalamafoni. Penalty and Ulster kick away to safety.
  • 35 mins Ulster 0 Leicester 3
  • 37 mins -Ulster in possession in the Leicester 22. A rolling maul with Best ball in hand and he wiggles through and goes to ground. The referee calls it back and Ulster kick to a lineout. Terrible effort from Ulster. Throw or call was all wrong but it's an Ulster scrum 5 metres out.
  • 39 mins -Brilliant tunover from Henderson in the Ulster 22 as Leicester push up with losehead prop Bateman involved in two carries.. It really is a swinging game with lots of errors both sides. No the conditions aren't easy.
  • 40 mins -Manu Tualagi charges into Burns in the midfield. Burns goes down - as most do. The medics are on the field looking at the Ulster outhalf, who looks in trouble. He has gone for a head injury assessment.
    European Debut for Angus Curtis who comes on for Burns.
  • 40 mins - Last play of the first half as Ford kicks long for an attacking Leicester lineout. Off the top from O'Connor as Tualagi steams up. He is stopped and the ball goes dead.
    HALFTIME Ulster 0 Leicester 3
  • Halftime -It's not a great quality game with a lot of ball being spilled by both sides. Burns will have a HIA during halftime and if he passes he should be out for the second half in a match that could be decided on who makes the least errors.. Leicester are edging it on territory and opportunity.
  • Sully Watch out for Michael Lowry. Super footballer.
  • We've been told that the Ulster outhalf replacement Curtis is also having a HIA after the final tackle of the first half.
  • "They are turning over ball too many times this Ulster team. They seem to be at sixes and sevens" - Stephen Ferris.
  • Leicester have won three scrum penalties against Ulster. What are the home side going to do in the second half? Well they could start at getting something on the scoreboard. There were three or four penalties kicked to touch by Ulster to no return. Something needs to change for the next 40 minutes.
    Halftime: Ulster 0 Leicester 3
  • The Kingspan Stadium crowd have always been patient with their team. So far this has been another evening where that demand has been made. It's not a spectacle but if Ulster need to think of just one word in very difficult conditions it would be EXECUTION.
  • Ulster outhalf Billy Burns is back. He passed his HIA while Curtis failed his. They are off for the second half.
  • 45 mins -So Ulster earn the penalty ball after a comedy of errors from Dan Cole. Best finds Henderson in the Ulster lineout. Penalty. Another lineout. O'Connor takes it beautifully and Coetzee takes it on. The ball is fed back and it's O'Connor who picks and finds a hole in the Leicester defence. Try from the Dubliner.
    Scrumhalf Cooney converts.
    Ulster 7 Leicester 3
  • 46 mins - Henderson brilliantly takes from the restart. Best and Timoney interchange in a quick fire counter attack. Cooney takes the ball and kicks to the corner where Henderson presurises and touches down. Brilliant Henderson. Brilliant try and what a momentum swing...but the referee pulls it back for a forward pass on the halfway line. Let off there for Leicester.
  • 52 mins - Leicester regroup and burst into the Ulster 22. Its a recycle game now pushing towards the Ulster posts. Whistle goes a for a penalty. Kick or touch? Ford goes to touch for an attacking lineout. Botched. Again.
  • 56 mins - Burns block down almost gives Ulster a clean break forward. But the space is swallowed up as he breaks into the Leicester half and he too is swallowed up.
  • 58 mins - ULSTER 7 Leicester 3
  • 60 mins -Finally Ulster find some space. They gather from a lineout on the right. The ball goes left. Leicester can't get number across and struggle with their line speed. Marty Moore makes good ground with the ball and recycles inside the 22. Centre Will Addison breaks through a soft tackle and Ulster have their crucial second try.
    Cooney kicks a decent conversion from a tight angle.
    ULSTER 14 Leicester 3
  • 63 mins -Ulster playing a more accurate game now. Stockdale takes a high ball and goose steps forward. Ulster are pressing but Burns puts in a high cross field ball to Addison. It's a long reach and the Ulster centre just doesn't make it. Good effort from Ulster.
  • 65 mins - McCloskey is down. It looks like his hamstring and not too serious...Burns goes off again this time for good, Shanahan comes into the scrumhalf position and the adaptable Cooney shifts out to 10.
  • 68 mins - The rain starts to fall again as Ulster press forward. A skip pass left and Lowry takes the ball up and ALMOST gets it over the line. A bit of size might have helped him there. Still the referee goes back to the penalty decision and Cooney steps up.It's good.
    ULSTER 17 Leicester 3
  • 70 mins - Ulster are playing better now. More structure and less errors. Leicester are looking for 15 points in 10 minutes and to that end press into the Ulster 22. The greasy ball is turned over and Gilroy charges away up field.
  • 75 mins -Leicester fullback Holmes covers and kicks out. Ulster lineout is good and Ulster develop a rolling maul. Leicester are stretched and short on players to the left. A wonderfully accurate and pacey pass from Addison sticks on Stockdale on the left wing and the prolific Irish try scorer runs in for Ulster's third try.
    Cooney converts.
    ULSTER 24 Leicester 3
  • 76 mins - It's driving rain and Tualagi breaks a tackle on midfield, the players hands sliding off him. There is no cover and the Leicester centre slides in on the rain, the referee running up also falling as conditions become dreadful. Still a chink of light.
    Ford converts
    ULSTER 24 Leicester 10
  • 78 mins - Don't know who are the bravest now, the players or the fans. Dangerous conditions with the rain slanting into Leicester player's faces.
  • 79 mins - Ulster kick to touch and the clock is running down. Frenchman Gauzere has just given a lecture. Bad timing referee. Leicester break out and kick wide....why? They gain possession again anyway, make more ground and kick wide to Holmes ....why? He fails to gather and the ball goes to touch to end the match.
    Final score: ULSTER 24 Leicester 10
  • Well Ulster will thank themselves for a much improved second half. Cooney earns man of the match for his kicking, his all round play and his successful switch from scrumhalf to outhalf when both Ulster 10's, Burns and Curtis, went off for HIAs.
    That's a huge win for Ulster and while the match was often scrappy, it was a performance of character and grit for the home side and win points on the board in their first European game.
    A good weekend for Ireland in Europe with wins in Belfast and Dublin and Munster gaining a draw with Premiership table toppers Exeter in Sandy Park.
    Final score: Ulster 24 Leicester 10.