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Ulster thump woeful Quins to keep their season alive

Eight tries from Dan McFarland’s men sets up a Challenge Cup quarter-final date with Northampton Saints next Saturday.

Michael Lowry scores a try.
Michael Lowry scores a try.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Harlequins 21

Ulster 57

Richard Mulligan reports from The Stoop

ULSTER PROGRESSED TO the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup with a powerful display, scoring eight tries as they eased past Harlequins at The Stoop.

The impressive display brings Ulster back to England on Saturday for the last eight tie against Northampton Saints as Dan McFarland continues in his quest to deliver silverware for the Irish Province after several barren years.

Quins, fielding a much changed side from that which had narrowly lost to Bristol Bears in the Premiership seven days previously, were no match for an Ulster side who came to London fully focused on the job to hand and delivered it in style with four tries either side of the break.

The home side showed some early positivity with centre Paul Lasike and backrow Jack Kenningham, punching little holes. However, it was to be Ulster who opened the scoring having forced a penalty.

Outhalf Billy Burns put the visitors in a good spot with a good touch find. Play initially moved left but came back right, Burns putting winger Robert Balacoune into some space and he surged forward before being tackled.

sean-reidy-scores-a-try Sean Reidy scores a try. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Quick ruck ball though saw John Cooney put the pass into the grateful arms of Stuart McCloskey who capitalised on the stretched Quins defence to dive over for the try – Cooney making it 7-0 with the extras after seven minutes.

Four minutes later Quins hooker, Elia Elia, strayed offside and the penalty chance from 30-odd yards was stroked over by Cooney for a 10-0 advantage.

The Ulster pack were getting the better in the scrum, the Quins props struggling against Marty Moore and Eric O’Sullivan and that kept the visitors on the front foot.

The backline wanted to attack and they asked much of the home defence but when Baloucoune was high tackled by scrumhalf, Scott Steele, it presented the chance back to the forwards.

The driving maul off the lineout soon gathered pace and Irish hooker, Robert Herring crossed. With Cooney converting Ulster were 17-0 ahead after 23 minutes.

Three minutes later after, Quins’ discipline was to let them down again and that gave Ulster the chance from the driving maul once again, this time Sean Reidy opting not to slip the ball back to Herring and going over himself.

Cooney made it four from four off the tee and Ulster were coasting at 24-0.

sean-reidy-celebrates-after-scoring-a-try-with-rob-herring-and-stuart-mccloskey Herring celebrates his try. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Quins ensured it was not all one way traffic with a sortie into Ulster territory. The visiting defence held firm, but when captain Jordi Murphy foolishly dived through at the back of a ruck, he was off to the sin bin.

The visitors kept on the squeeze and although Nick Timoney denied winger Luke Northmore, at the next phase captain, and number eight, Tom Lawday crashed over for a try. Former Ulster scrum half, Brett Herron, in his first start at flyhalf for the London club, added the extras.

Ulster’s response was swift. Steele’s box kick was gathered by fullback Michael Lowry just inside the Quins half. His acceleration was amazing as he powered past all in front of him and over for an unconverted try with four minutes to the break.

As in the first-half Harlequins started brightly, but it their discipline was to let them down and Burns popped it into the corner, but the driving maul of the lineout was halted illegally by Elia and at the second time of asking obstruction by Timoney in the lineout saw Quins breathe a big sigh of relief.

Quins tested Ulster as they pressed with some continuity into the visiting ‘22’ but the Irish province kept their shape and the defensive line held effectively.

When another penalty went to touch in the corner, there was only one real result, Herring getting his second try and then Burns intercepted an attempted Herron pass and raced in from 40 yards to dot down under the posts. At 43-7 after an hour, this contest was over.

As the benches were emptied, it was Quins who continued to plug away and eventually found a way through the water tight Ulster defence, Kenningham going over from close range and Herron converting.

Ulster were to hit the half-century on 66 minutes with replacement scrumhalf Alby Mathewson crossing and replacement outhalf Ian Madigan converting and within four minutes Madigan added the extras to a second from Reidy from open play.

Quins had the final say with a try through replacement prop Jordan Els, converted by Herron – merely consolation at that stage.

Harlequins scorers

Tries: Lawday, Kenningham, Els

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Conversions: Herron (3)

Ulster scorers

Tries: McCloskey, Herring (2), Reidy (2), Lowry, Burns, Mathewson

Conversions: Cooney (5), Madigan (2)

Penalty: Cooney

Harlequins: Tyrone Green; Luke Northmore, James Lang, Paul Lasike,  Nathan Earle, Brett Herron, Scott Steele; Santiago Garcia Botta, Elia Elia, Will Collier, Hugh Tizard, George Hammond, Archie White, Jack Kenningham, Tom Lawday

Replacements: George Head (Elia 60), Jordan Els (Botta 63), Simon Kerrod (Collier 46), Tevita Cavubati (White 67), Matas Jurevicius (Kenningham 67), Jack Stafford (Steele 65), Ben Tapuai (Lang 65), Ross Chisholm (Northmore 67).

 

Ulster: Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy (Capt.), Nick Timoney.

Replacements: John Andrew (Herring 73), Andrew Warwick (O’Sullivan 63) Tom O’Toole (Moore 56), Cormac Izuchukwu (Treadwell 46), Matty Rea (Izuchukwu 55), Alby Mathewson (Cooney 65), Ian Madigan (Burns 65), Ethan McIlroy.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

About the author:

Richard Mulligan

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