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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 22 February, 2019
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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage as Ulster go head-to-head with Racing 92 in the Heineken Champions Cup.

The French side make the trip to Kingspan Stadium, already boasting a victory over the Irish province earlier in the competition.

So, with just under an hour until kick-off, catch up on some pre-match listening.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

And if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got our reporter Sean Farrell at this afternoon’s game to bring us all the latest news, reaction and analysis.

Here’s a little something he prepared earlier…

This is Ulster locked, loaded and ready to go full-tilt. No more phony way, no managing minutes, precautionary rests or holding back. The European campaign is here to be defined when they kick off against Racing 92.

Ravenhill will need to rock. Because nothing will come easy against this iteration of the Paris club. Laurent Labit and Travers have their team humming, with more points on the board than anyone else in this year’s Heineken Champions Cup.

They lead pool four by five points, and so could secure a place in the knockout stages with a win today and the tools are in place to do just that.

You can read his full pre-match preview right here.

There’s a couple of familiar faces preparing today’s game at Kingspan Stadium…

Simon Zebo arrives Racing 92 and Ireland international, Simon Zebo. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Now, let’s bring you some team news…

Stockdale, Addison and McCloskey are all in as Dan McFarland picks a strong side for today’s game.

Iain Henderson continues his return from injury – how much will he be missed in these big games? 

Ulster

15. Louis Ludik
14. Robert Baloucoune
13. Will Addison
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney

1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rory Best
3. Marty Moore
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Kieran Treadwell
6. Sean Reidy
7. Jordi Murphy
8. Marcell Coetzee

Replacements:

16. Rob Herring
17. Andy Warwick
18. Ross Kane
19. Ian Nagle
20. Nick Timoney
21. Dan Shanahan
22. Mike Lowry
23. Darren Cave

Now we’ll cast our eye over the opposition…

Racing 92

15. Brice Dulin
14. Simon Zebo
13. Virimi Vakatawa
12. Henry Chavancy
11. Juan Imhoff
10. Finn Russell
9. Mxime Machenaud

1. Guram Gogichashvili
2. Dimitri Szarzewski (Captain)
3. Ben Tameifuna
4. Bernard Le Roux
5. Leone Nakarawa
6. Wenceslas Lauret
7. Baptiste Chouzenoux
8. Antonie Claassen

Replacements

16. Teddy Bauigny
17. Vasil Kakovin
18. Georges-Henri Colombe-Reazel
19. Brois Palu
20. Fabien Sanconnie
21. Teddy Iribarien
22. Olivier Klemenczak
23. Ben Volavola

Just some late team news…

Dave Shanahan comes in for John Cooney who has been ruled out through injury.

Dave Shanahan Dave Shanahan comes in as a late replacement. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Not long now until kick-off…

You can get involved today, send us on your predictions in the comments section below.

Cian Roche here getting you through today’s action – you can get me on Twitter @cian_roche.

Rory Best with Matthew Carley and Dimitri Szarzewski at the coin toss That air of authority... Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

McFarland has his say on Conney’s replacement Dave Shanahan…

Dave will come up and play 9 – a really good young player. Puts a really good tempo onto the game. In him we have some sprightly 9 play”

How do you think he will cope with the occasion?

Jacob Stockdale Some last minute preparations for Jacob Stockdale. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Returning Rory Best leads his side out…

Not long now until kick-off – any last minute predictions? Get them into me in the comments section…

Flag 2Mins

PENALTY! Ulster 3, Racing 92 0 – Billy Burns

With 100 seconds on the clock, Ulster win a penalty off the kick-off and punish what looked like a pretty harsh early penalty against Racing.

5Mins

5 min: Ulster 3, Racing 92 0

Ulster’s defence force a turnover from Racing and they kick clear. Machenaud and Vakatawa trying to bulldoze their way out of defence. 

Ulster force the error through Finn Russell and win another penalty.

9Mins

9 min: Ulster 8, Racing 92 0 

Billy Burns skews the conversion wide.

Robert Baloucoune extends Ulster’s lead against the French side, straight from the line out Burns and Coetzee makes sure the ball goes out wide and the young Ulster back powers through to extend Ulster’s lead.

What a start for Ulster!

13Mins

13 min: Ulster 8, Racing 92 0 

Simon Zebo gets a chorus of boos as he gets his first real touches of the ball.

Racing coming back into the game now but the Ulster defence is resolute. 12 phases as they attack but Marcell Coetzee wins the penalty for the home side.

So far so good for the Irish province. 

Flag 14Mins

TRY! Ulster 13, Racing 92 0 – Jacob Stockdale!

We’re going to the TMO to check the last pass… it’s good.

‘Nothing clear and obvious,’ says Matthew Carley as regards a forward pass.

Another missed conversion from Burns.

16 min: Ulster 13, Racing 92 0 

Referee Matthew Carley is struggling with an injury at the moment – he’s having some calf issues so we’re taking a quick break from play to allow him to get some treatment.

20Mins

20 min: Ulster 13, Racing 92 0

We’re back in action, good line-out from Best. McCloskey keeps possession for Ulster.

Zebo collects the kick and runs into two tackles. Ulster turn it over. 

Shanahan’s box kick clears but Dulin gathers the kick. Racing patient now with their build up. They go wide from Lauret and feed again to Zebo but he’s pushed into touch.

24Mins

24 min: Ulster 13, Racing 92 5

Stemming from a poor line out from Ulster, Racing stretch the Ulster defence and cause Burns to leave a pocket of space Virimi Vakatawa to power his way over.

Conversion is missed but it’s a good response for Racing – a lapse in concentration for Ulster who, up to this point, have actually been quite disciplined.

Flag

PENALTY! Ulster 16, Racing 92 5 – Will Addison

Huge chance for Stockdale! Addison with a lovely little kick into the try area and Stockdale reads the flight of the ball well.

Looks like he’s ready to ground the ball, but a bounce just takes the ball away from him.

Ulster win a penalty and Addison steps up to convert – looks like Burns might be struggling just a little.

30Mins

29 min: Ulster 16, Racing 10

A little gap opens up for Racing as Zebo takes the ball and streaks into the corner, we go to the TMO to see if his leg was in touch first – but it’s good!

Conversion is missed.

Racing now with two tries of their own after Ulster’s lightning quick start.

36Mins

36 min: Ulster 16, Racing 10

Penalty to Ulster, their pressure on the ruck forces Zebo to play the ball on the ground. 

Now they come forward, Addison, Burns… Imhoff intercepts.

Ulster win the ball back and come again. After a fairly quiet last 10 minutes, Ulster rediscovering a bit of their mojo. 

Treadwell concedes a penalty and Racing kick clear.

37Mins

37 min: Ulster 16, Racing 10

Big turnover – Robert Baloucoune bursts into Virimi Vakatawa and Ulster win their fourth turnover of the game. 

That at a time when Ulster looked a little stretched at the back. A good opening half but Racing still well in this game. 

Flag 40Mins

HT: Ulster 16, Racing 10

Ulster’s fast start (tries from Robert Baloucoune and Jacob Stockdale) is offset by Racing 92′s comeback thanks to Virimi Vakatawa and Simon Zebo.

What did you make of the first 40 minutes of action?

Will Addison kicks a penalty Will Addison assumed some of the kicking duties to help maintain Ulster's lead. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

This wonderful score from Stockdale was his fifth of the pool stages…

Who was your stand-out player of the opening 40 minutes of play?

Robert Baloucoune scores a try Robert Baloucoune scores the day's opening try. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

42Mins

42min: Ulster 16, Racing 10

Best wins an early penalty for Ulster. One change for Racing – Zebo is off and Olivier Klemenczak comes in.

47Mins

47 min: Ulster 16, Racing 10

A relatively quiet opening seven minutes to this second half. Ulster make good ground but they lose a line-out in a very good position.

This is where they’ve been good today – pinning Racing back. 

Marcell Coetzee and Kieran Treadwell with Ben Tameifuna Marcell Coetzee and Kieran Treadwell wrap up Ben Tameifuna. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

48Mins

48 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 10

What a try for Jacob Stockdale! Exactly what Ulster needed at the start of this second half. He takes the ball on the wing and kicks what looks like a hopeless kick.

But Stockdale isn’t to be denied. Through a swarm of Racing 92 players he streaks through and reads the bounce of the ball, gathers and touches down.

Absolutely magnificent. That is wonderful, wonderful rugby from Stockdale – his 6th try of the pool stages.

Addison converts.

54Mins

54 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 10

Marcell Coetzee comes in on Brice Dulin as Racing break for the line. It looks OK after an initial viewing made it look high – he tries to wrap but pulls out.

Good defence from Ulster, they win the scrum. Cleared.

56Mins

56 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 10

Big, big chance for Racing. Russell holds the ball too long and his pass back outside is just not good enough as Ulster begin to fold under pressure.

Virimi Vakatawa left looking on in despair as the ball is fumbled.

Klemenczak made the initial break down the right wing but as the ball was worked back inside – the possession was used improperly and a big, big chance goes begging. 

Stockdale’s try…

60Mins

60 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 15

Finn Russell misses the conversion. His kicking today has not been great all things considered.

Like Racing’s last attack, they charge straight down the throat of the Ulster defence and then work it wide. Simply not enough numbers out to deny Dulin who crosses unopposed.

Flag 64Mins

TRY! Ulster 23, Racing 92 20 - Olivier Klemenczak

Racing have their bonus point try…

63Mins

63min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 22

Try is converted. It’s coming thick and fast for Racing now.

Olivier Klemenczak finishes off a move after a good pass from Russell and he charges over again with very little opposition.

The French side are doing there best to suck in Ulster’s defence and get their match-ups spot on out wide.

One-point game.

67Mins

67min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 22

Changes… 

Ulster hooker Rob Herring replaces Rory Best. 

73Mins

73 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 22

Into the last seven minutes.

Burns replaced by Michael Lowry (Ulster).

Russell makes way for Ben Volavola (Racing 92).

Ulster scrum. Feeds McCloskey and then to Lowry. Reidy picks up possession and almost makes it half way. Ulster working from the back.

Herring loses it and Ulster are pushed back. 

75Mins

75 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 22

Racing battering away at the defensive line… But Ulster win the turnover through Jordi Murphy.

This is going to be a huge five minutes. Stand Up for the Ulstermen rings out around the stadium.

Can they hang on? One point separates the sides.

77Mins

77 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 22

Imhoff crosses for Racing – but the pass is forward.

Ulster scrum – huge moment. They win the penalty. Seconds bleed away. Ulster just need to hold on. It’s all Racing at the moment.

79Mins

79 min: Ulster 23, Racing 92 22

Tempers are flaring here. Addison finds touch after Ulster win a penalty. They are so, so close to a famous victory here. 

Line-out from Herring, Murphy collects.

Ball squirts out to Shanahan. Ulster recycle… Penalty Ulster and we’re into the final minute.

Flag 80Mins

PENALTY! Ulster 26, Racing 92 22 – Will Addison

A massive three points. Into the 80th minute now – Racing still have time!

80Mins

FT: Ulster 26, Racing 92 22

Addison collects the restart and kicks straight into the stands.

A nerve-wracking finish…

Racing were battering the Ulster defence toward the end of the game – but in the dying moments, Herring, Addison, Lowry, Shanahan all key in winning the final penalty and winning the game. 

A massive, massive performance and win over excellent French opposition.

Racing leave with a try-scoring bonus point and a losing bonus point so it’s not the worst result for them but they will know they had the chances to win.

How about this guy’s performance…

Two tries and an all-round tremendous performance from Jacob Stockdale – a deserving man of the match?

Jacob Stockdale chips through to score a try Stockdale's tries were crucial to Ulster's victory today. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Well, that’s just about all from us here.

We’ll have more reaction and analysis coming up this evening – make sure you catch up with our full report from Sean Farrell.

You can read his piece right here.

Thanks for following this afternoon, we’ll see you next time. Bye!

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