Ulster must wait for Heineken Cup Qtr final place

Ulster will have to wait to Montpellier to find out whether they have qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter finals after they beat Montpellier 27-16 but failed to score the crucial fourth try which would have guaranteed them Cup quarter-final place.

The Irish province racked up a fifth win in five Pool 5 matches to give them a seven-point lead over Leicester.

However, the English giants should close the gap with a win at group whipping boys Treviso on Saturday before a potential pool decider at Welford Road against Ulster next weekend.

Ulster had looked in control, but never particularly comfortable in the first 40 minutes at Ravenhill against a Montpellier side which had lost six of their last seven matches.

Having slipped down 3-0 to a seventh-minute penalty from Eric Escande, Ulster were swiftly on top with two tries in three minutes.

Paddy Jackson’s accurate cross-field kick was calmly collected by lock forward Robbie Diack to dive over for his third career try in the tournament.

South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar kicked a difficult conversion from tight on the touchline for a 7-3 lead.

Pienaar added his team’s second try on 26 minutes after collecting his own kick ahead.

His simple conversion made it 14-3 but Ulster took their foot off the gas and ended up going in at just 17-13 in front at the interval.

Montpellier lock Robins Tchale-Watchou burst through for 14-8 with Escande adding the extras.

Pienaar and Escande then exchanged penalties before half-time.

A penalty apiece followed early in the second half before former All Blacks prop John Afoa barrelled through for Ulster’s third try just before hour mark.

Pienaar added the conversion for a personal haul of 17 points on the night but some dogged defence from Montpellier prevented Ulster from grabbing the bonus point try.

In the night’s other match, Scarlets beat Racing Metro 19-13 in Pool 4, but neither side can make the last eight.

“It wasn’t a great match,” said Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland who kicked 14 points.

“We put in a lot of hard work this season. We didn’t have the precision required but we showed a lot of determination.”

Final Score Ulster (17) 27 Montpellier (13) 16

Scorers

Ulster
Tries – Diack, Pienaar, Afoa
Pen -Pienaar 2
Con – Pienaar 3
Drop –

Montpellier
Tries – Tchale Watchou
Pen – Escande 3
Con – Escande
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee:
Wayne Barnes (England),
Assistant ref: Tim Wigglesworth (England),
Assistant ref: Stuart Terheege (England),
TMO: Sean Davey (England),
Citing Commissioner : Denis Jones (Wales)

Ulster Rugby: Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Tom Court, Rory Best, John Afoa, Johann Muller (c), Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams

Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Iain Henderson, Roger Wilson, Sean Doyle, Paul Marshall, Michael Allen

Montpellier: Anthony Floch; Yohann Artru, Anthony Tuitavke, Thomas Combezou, Lucas Dupont; Enzo Selponi, Eric Escande; Na’ama Leleimalefaga, Charles Geli (c), Maximiliano Bustos, Mickael Demarco, Robins Tchale Watchou, Kelian Galletier, Alexandre Bias, Johnnie Beattie

Replacements: Thomas Bianchin, Mikheil Nariashvili, Paea Fa’anunu, Mickael Ivaldi, Fred Quercy, Benoit Paillaugue, Pierre Berard, Timoci Nagusa

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