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Ulster edge closer to quarter-finals

15th January 2011 14:28

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Adam DArcy; Dane Haylett-Petty ulster v biarritz

Ulster: Nearly let it slip

Ulster are on the brink of making the Heineken Cup play-offs for the first time in 12 years after beating Biarritz 9-6 at Ravenhill on Saturday.

The victory came courtesy of an Ian Humphreys penalty kick two minutes from full-time in what was an extremely tight contest with nothing seperating the two teams heading into the last quarter of the match.

Fate was in the home side's own hands, and now a Heineken Cup quarter-final place - at Ravenhill - beckons. It's a realistic scenario for which their players and supporters have waited since 1999.

Only Italian side Aironi stand in Ulster's way, to whom Brian McLaughlin's men must travel next weekend for their final Pool 4 fixture.

Ulster won the toss and elected to play against a strong wind in the first half and the gale-like conditions were highlighted when Humphreys' first penalty attempt was collected by Dimitri Yachvili in the Biarritz 22.

The France scrum-half booted the Basques ahead with the aid of the wind and landed a second penalty kick just before half-time to give the visitors a 6-0 advantage.

Midway through the first half Biarritz's English back Iain Balshaw had denied Adam D'Arcy a try-scoring opportunity with Erik Lund cooling off in the sinbin for not rolling away.

Humphreys reduced the deficit after the restart from his first successful penalty and levelled the scores with 20 minutes left from a second.

Drop-kick specialist Damien Traille missed a pot at goal from in front of the Ulster posts before the home defence bravely repelled 17 phases of Biarritz possession camped on their own tryline.

And, with less than three minutes remaining, the Ulster pack rumbled forwards and were rewarded with a long-range penalty decision.

Irish fly-half Humphreys coolly slotted from just inside his own half to snatch an important victory and it is now all to play for against Aironi next week.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Pens: Humphreys 3

For Biarritz:
Pens: Yachvili 2

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Nevin Spence, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Rory Best (capt), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Bryan Young, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Tim Barker, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 David McIlwaine.

Biarritz: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Laurent Tranier, 11 Iain Balshaw, 10 Damien Traille, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Magnus Lund, 5 Erik Lund, 4 Jérôme Thion, 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 Benoit August, 1 Eduard Coetzee.
Replacements: 16 Romain Terrain, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Alexandre Barozzi, 19 Pelu Taele, 20 Samiu Vahafolau, 21 Julien Peyrelongue, 22 Michael Bond, 23 Ilikena Bolakoro.

Referee: Nigel Owens

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