Harlequins 10 Ulster 34
Ulster travelled to The Stoop on Friday night to take on a Harlequins side desperate for revenge after letting a nine-point lead slip in the dying minutes last weekend in Belfast.
Both sides attempted to feel one another out early on by sending long balls down on top of each other. There were early chances for on either side that came to an abrupt halt before John Cooney opened the scoring for Ulster with a penalty kick from 35 metres out.
Ulster looked in the ascendency early on, in large part thanks to the Premiership outfit who conceded four penalties inside the opening 12 minutes. The northern province looked for the game’s opening try when Billy Burns opted to kick to the corner after Harlequins conceded a penalty at the scrum. However, Ulster’s sustained period of dominance came to nothing as Martin Landajo smartly cleared his lines to relieve Harlequins of pressure.
Both sides continued to make handling errors which pretty much summed up the opening 15 minutes of this crunch clash.
Ulster continued to look the more likely to score, first stretching the Harlequins defence before sending Marcell Coetzee through only for the destructive South African to be stopped short. Ulster then kicked for the corner and set-up a rolling maul on the 5-metre line but, unfortunately, a knock-on in the ruck saw the attack come to nothing.
Would they rue these missed opportunities?
They almost did ten minutes before the half as momentum swung in the home side’s favour who had a great chance to score through Stephan Lewies.
However, the lock didn’t have the speed to pull away effectively. In the end, Harlequins had to settle for a James Lang penalty to draw the sides level.
The half looked to be ending with the side’s deadlocked at 3-3 until a beautiful breakaway from Ulster involving Billy Burns, Matt Faddes and Jacob Stockdale ended with Cooney touching down to give Ulster a deserved lead at the break.
A superb length of the field try from @UlsterRugby…
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 13, 2019
Four minutes into the second half and Cooney was the hero again for Ulster only this time at the other end when his last-ditch tackle five metres from the line prevented Ross Chisholm from scoring.
Three minutes later and Ulster were in dreamland with their second try. It was finished by Luke Marshall but Stuart McCloskey’s smart kick in behind made the score possible as Ulster moved 14 points ahead.
Soon, the game was all but over when the red-hot Cooney moved Ulster into a 21-point lead with a conversion following an absolutely scintillating individual try from the scrum-half.
The Ulster talisman reacted quickest as the worsening conditions saw a loose ball spill out from the ruck. Cooney managed to slip one tackle before kicking through the gap and touching down for his fourth Champions Cup try in four games.
Harlequins were handed a lifeline just minutes later when Lewies crashed over the try line to bring them back to within 14 points with a little over 15 minutes remaining.
However, it was to be Ulster’s night as Dan McFarland’s side kept up their 100 per cent winning record going in Pool 3 of the Heineken Champions Cup.
Ulster weren’t finished though as first Matt Faddes secured the all important bonus-point before Tom O’Toole crashed over their fifth try of the match to leave the final score at 34-10 on another magical Friday night for the northern province.