Jackson drop boots Ulster to win

Date published: October 22 2016

Ulster picked up their first win of their Champions Cup pool campaign in dramatic fashion as a late drop-goal saw them beat Exeter 19-18.

The only try of the game came from Ulster's Sean Reidy, after excellent play from man-of-the-match Charles Piutau saw him past the Chiefs defence.

Their tally was boosted by Paddy Jackson, while Exeter's Gareth Steenson kicked all of their points to secure a losing bonus point.

Jackson and Steenson exchanged early penalties, before Franco van der Merwe reached for the line but lost it before grounding.

Steenson finally broke the 3-3 deadlock just short of the half hour mark, but it was soon to be surpassed by the first try of the game. Ulster's Piutau made a promising break before being brought down, but he fired the ball out at the ruck to be collected by Reidy, who stepped Olly Woodburn and carried over. Jackson added the extras from the tee, taking the half-time score to 10-6 at Kingspan Stadium.

The Irish fly-half added to his tally eight minutes after the break, as he watched his halfway line penalty attempt fall just the right side of the bar.

Exeter looked for a reply immediately from the kick-off, with Woodburn claiming Steenson's high kick before the visitors played through the phases, but play was brought back for a penalty and the Chiefs kicker slotted from in front of the posts.

The two fly-halves exchanged kicks yet again; Jackson first extended Ulster's lead to four points, only for his opposite number to cancel it out minutes later.

After the kicks from the tee, the two kickers took it in turn to slot drop-goals, with Steenson putting the Chiefs in to the lead for the first time in the game before Jackson pinned them back.

With a 100 per-cent record in the 78th minute of the game, Steenson took aim with another drop-goal, but his attempt drifted just wide of the post as Ulster held on for the four points.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Try: Reidy
Con: Jackson
Pens: Jackson 3
Drop-Goal: Jackson

For Exeter:
Pens: Steenson 5
Drop-Goal: Steenson

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble (c), 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pete Browne, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rory Best, 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Alan O’Connor, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Craig Gilroy, 23 Tommy Bowe

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Henry Slade, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Kai Horstmann, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Moray Low
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Ollie Devoto

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Thomas Charabas (France), Cédric Clavé (France)
TMO: Eric Briquet Campin (France)