ULSTER AND LEICESTER faced off at Welford Road, knowing that the winner would be at home in the Heineken Cup quarter finals. Mark Anscombe’s men needed to keep up their 100% run if they were to place at revamped Ravenhill in the last eight.
Ruan Pienaar gets a quick pray in on the halfway line as Leicester are cheered out onto the pitch. Huge game for Ulster loose-head Callum Black.
1 minute – Lovely playing conditions. Pienaar clears from inside his 22 as Ulster look solid at the breakdown first time out. Easy L.O win for Leicester and Tigers prowl on the 22.
3 minutes – Niall Morris is cleared out by an accidental Jordan Crane clothesline and the ball is knocked forward. Here’s the first scrum… Black v Dan Cole. It’s Afoa who caves and Leicester get a penalty.
PENALTY: Leicester 3-0 Ulster (Flood ’4)
No hassle for Flood, just on the 22 and slightly to the right. Good Ulster restart as Slater falls into touch.
8 minutes – Good, easy claim by Trimble in his 22 and his kick gets Ulster back into the oppsition half. Kitchener claims but Ben Youngs’ box-kick goes straight out. Best finds Black at the front of the lineout and Tait wins the mark after a Jackson steepler.
10 minutes – Nick Williams drops a dolly in midfield and we have another scrum. Wilson sets himself lower to give Afoa greater support. Tigers steady and they pile into the Ulster half before winning a penalty. Trimble pinged by Nigel Owens.
PENALTY: Leicester 6-0 Ulster (Flood ’11)
47 metres out and to the left of the posts but Flood slots it over. Good start from the home side.
14 minutes – Salvi very close to going offside but a penalty eventually comes for not releasing at the breakdown. Pienaar kicks to within 15m of the Tigers line. Leicester keeping a keen eye on Payne so far. Goneva has bashed him in the tackle once already.
Big Ulster maul from that L.O. Penalty coming so Jackson goes for a crossfield kick for Trimble. Out it goes so Pienaar will kick for points.
PENALTY: Leicester 6-3 Ulster (Pienaar ’15)
Slater penalised there and Pienaar knocks over a 41m effort. Respectful silence from the home fans.
17 minutes – Flood boots his restart five metres too far and we come back for a scrum on halfway. Tigers take too long to set so Owens gives a free-kick. Chipped in behind their lines and Tait has to scramble to cover. Flood boots out but Ulster have the lineout. Alas, Kitchener steals Best’s throw.
20 minutes – Youngs finds Flood on his shoulder but Cave and Marshall haul him to the turf. Muller gets to the ruck and turns the ball over. Crane is off with an injured arm. Mafi trots on.
21 minutes – Huge couple of minutes as Kitchener pins the ears back and burns through the Ulster defence. Payne goes low and hard to halt his charge five metres out. Williams then gains a turnover but the resulting scrum sees their front-row crash. Another penalty coming up…
PENALTY: Leicester 9-3 Ulster (Flood ’23)
29 metres out but no bother to Flood. The scrum is a real worry now for Ulster. This time, Jackson kicks out on the full. Scrum on halfway.
26 minutes – Tait penalised for holding on and Pienaar pumps the ball into the opposition 22. Points needed from this visit to the dangerzone. Another decent maul and Ulster are within four metres. They win a penalty.
Toby Flood is told to warn teammate Dan Cole from pulling down any more mauls. Pic: Sky Sports
Well struck again from Pienaar from just over 30 metres out. Dan Cole was lucky to avoid a yellow card as that was VERY deliberate pulling down of the maul. Flood clutches his knee as Tigers concede another penalty.
Nigel Owens tells Anthony Allen he can go to the Leicester City football stadium if he wants to talk back to referees.
PENALTY: Leicester 9-9 Ulster (Pienaar ’31)
Wonderful penalty from halfway and it has just enough legs. The flags go up and we are level.
36 minutes – Gibson gets a crucial Leicester turnover as the tide was beginning to turn. Owens pings Ulster and Afoa is the culprit for his headlong charge on Ben Youngs. The ref did not agree with the prop that the ball [and scrum-half] was in play. Flood misses left and wide as he hooks his effort.
38 minutes – Great scrambling from Ulster as they win the ball in midfield but Luke Marshall, who has been effectively shut down this evening, boots the ball away to Tait and that’s poor. Williams claims the lineout at the back and Ulster are on the attack. Best plays scrum-half.
39 minutes - Ooh! So close to a try. Great chip in behind from Pienaar and Trimble snatches the ball from Tait. His foot falls in touch and it is lucky for Payne as he fumbles the wingers pass. Owens calls play back for a supposedly high hit on Ben Youngs.
That was a big, big tackle from Payne on the turbo-charged Kitchener just before the half-hour mark. A try then would have put Tigers in the ascendancy. Credit to Ulster, too, for not panicking despite their scrum having no end of problems in the opening 30.
Tigers have lost Matthew Tait [back] and Crane [ACL] now. Hamilton is on for the fullback and calls his his ‘Mark!’
43 minutes – Parling, Croft, Tuilagi and Mulipola all missing off the home bench too. Best finds Tuohy at the lineout and Payne, then Cave take the ball into contact. Ukster going through the phases before Williams makes some crucial yards.Trimble then gets penalised for taking Youngs out at the ruck after coming in from the side. Stupidity there from Master Trimble.
44 minutes – Mafi peels off a lineout and links up with nimble Youngs (as opposed to hooker Youngs). Ulster turn the ball over again. Super stuff.
PENALTY: Leicester 12-9 Ulster (Flood ’46)
Henry was foolish there as he was never truly attached to that scrum. He disengages and tries to intercept a Youngs pass but Owens had his number.
50 minutes – Leicester doing well here as they are greedily holding on to the ball and building phases.
TMO for Leicester: Looks like Dubliner Niall Morris is over…
TRY: Leicester 19-9 Ulster (Morris ’49)
Flood is the creator as he makes Ulster pay for pushing up in defence. His grubber sits up nicely for Irishman Niall Morris and Paddy Jackson can get under him or bundle him out of play. That all began on the left flank when Payne spilled a Garryowen kick. Flood converts too.
53 minutes – Ulster laying siege to the Tigers line. 14 phases at the moment and still going…
55 minutes – Pienaar is the weak link after 21 phases and Tigers squirrel the ball away. Allen thinks it is a good idea to run out of his 22 and he is lucky to survive. Ball is dished back to Flood who boots up to near halfway.
55 minutes – Here comes Diack and Court. Black and Williams off. Penalty coming for Ulster and Pienaar will go for the sticks. Tom Youngs looking guilty there — off his feet.
PENALTY: Leicester 19-12 Ulster (Pienaar ’57)
Never in doubt and there is four points in it. Ulster claim the restart and Wilson wins a high ball despite pressure from Hamilton.
TRY!! Leicester 19-19 Ulster (Pienaar ’58)
Great stuff from Pienaar as he charges down a clearance attempt and dives over to dot in down. Individual brilliance. He nails a 37m conversion from near the touchline too.
Here is that Niall Morris try:
62 minutes – Leicester may be winded by that score but they are not done scrapping. Payne handles the next big up-and-under BUT kicks out on the full. Tigers get the lineout 30 metres from the Ulster line.
64 minutes – Chris Henry and Darren Cave are racking up the tackles as Tigers go through the phases. They get to nine before the ball spills forward. Great defence from the home side, including Jackso (below). Henderson on for Tuohy.
65 minutes – Pienaar is the next to kick the ball out on the full. Goneva is the main ball-carrier for Tigers at present but he is haled by a shuddering tackle. Great discipline from the visitors at the moment as three white shirts drag Goneva out of play.
That Pienaar charge-down was on Flood, who has been otherwise excellent this evening.
Here is that vital Pienaar try:
74 minutes – Best’s lineout throwing has improved once Kitchener trudged off with an injury. Ulster penalised and Marshall is the guilty party. Offside is the call. Flood’s kick is EPIC. They will have a 5m lineout.
75 minutes – Big tackle from Wilson halts the maul. Leicester spread the ball wide. Flood the DROPS the ball a yard from the line. Best snaps it up and clears to near halfway with a wonderful kick.
Marshall is the next to hoof the ball into an opposition 22 and it looks amazing but we are getting a video replay for this. Should go in Ulster’s favour but it looks tight.
76 minutes – Bad call, in my opinion. Called in-goal and we go 60 metres back for a Leicester attacking scrum. Hometown decision!
77 minutes – The scrum wins Tigers another put-in but a penalty will do nothing for Richard Cockerill’s men. Tigers need a try. Three minutes to go.
78 minutes – LEGENDS! The Ulster scrum piles into Tigers and they win the penalty. Court is the hero again. As for Best, what a guy.
Amazing effort from Ulster and their defence in the second-half was so patient, organised and committed. That high line was breached by Flood’s brilliance but was otherwise impregnable. Home quarter final at Ravenhill.
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