Saturday, 7th December 2019 @ 15:15
It was a heartbreaking night for Quins, losing by one point to Ulster in the Heineken Champions Cup, but coming away with a bonus point.
Ulster’s passionate fans were in fine voice as always, and the opening five minutes belonged to the home side in the attack, but Quins were resolute in their defending. However, it was the home side who opened the scoring after seven minutes through the boot of John Cooney, with the penalty in front of the sticks.
Quins responded two minutes later with a Marcus Smith penalty from 40 metres out, bringing the scores level at 3-3.
On the 16th minute, Quins won the lineout and played the ball through midfield brilliantly, before Gabs Ibitoye showed his classy footwork to break through a number of defenders. Quins got to within five metres of the line before a wayward pass lost possession, but Quins won it back by driving Ulster winger Louis Ludik into touch for a lineout on the home side’s 22 metre line.
The next eight minutes were all about Quins in attack, which led to the game’s opening try after lovely fast paced attacking, driving play from the visitors and Kyle Sinckler’s offload to Alex Dombrandt saw the number eight score his third try in three matches. After Marcus Smith’s successful conversion, Quins were 3-10 ahead after 26 minutes of action.
Ulster responded on the 31st minute after a cross field kick out wide found the hands of a teammate before offloading to flanker Sean Reidy who touched the ball down. Cooney’s conversion levelled the scored with eight minutes remaining of the first half, 10-10.
Despite encouraging efforts in attack and defence from both sides, the first half ended level at 10-10.
Three minutes into the second half and Ulster took control of the game with centre Stuart McCloskey crossing in the corner to add five for the home side. However, Cooney missed the conversion giving Ulster a 15-10 advantage with plenty of the game left to play.
Quins responded well, providing some encouraging attacking play which led to the penalty. However, Marcus Smith hit the posts with the kick and play continued with the scores still at 15-10.
But Gustard’s Quins are not ones to be put down, with constant pressure on the Ulster defensive line and from the driving maul Elia Elia crosses the line to give Quins a two-point lead following Smith’s conversion. 15-17 after 57 minutes.
Ulster thought they were through for a quick response but for an outstanding Danny Care tackle that any rugby player in the world would be proud of. From the breakdown Alex Dombrandt intercepted the pass and gained around 60 metres before offloading to Ross Chisholm until Gabs Ibitoye got his hands on the ball and pushed forward. A few phases of driving attacking play later and Quins extended the lead with Hooker Elia Elia claiming his second of the game. Marcus Smith added the two to give Quins a convincing 15-24 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.
The strength of the Ulster pack prevailed on the 66th minute, narrowing the gap after driving the ball in the maul after the lineout over the line. Replacement hooker Adam McBurney placed the ball down and Cooney’s conversion brought the game to within two points, 22-24.
With only two minutes remaining, heartbreak for Quins after referee Mike Adamson awarded the home side a penalty on the 40 metre line, slotted through the posts from John Cooney to bring Kingspan to life.
The match ended 25-24 to Ulster, for a no doubt disappointed Quins, who came away with the bonus point defeat.
Ulster head to The Stoop to face Harlequins under the Friday night lights on Friday 13th December in Heineken Champions Cup action. Tickets are available at tickets.quins.co.uk.