Ulster come up just short

23rd Jan 2010, 18:04

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Not enough: Ulster beat Bath

Not enough: Ulster beat Bath

Ulster's last-ditch quest for a Heineken Cup quarter-final place ended in failure despite a 28-10 win in Bath on Saturday.

Ulster's last-ditch quest for a Heineken Cup quarter-final place ended in failure despite a 28-10 win in Bath on Saturday.

Tries from Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave and Paddy Wallace made it a miserable exit from the competition for Bath who had former England lock Danny Grewcock sent off in the 32nd minute.

While Bath, champions in 1998, finished bottom of the pool with just one victory, Ulster just missed out on a quarter-final place as they failed to earn a bonus point for scoring four tries. A losing bonus point for Stade Francais in their final match against Edinburgh was enough to put the Parisians through.

Ulster's 22-year-old fly-half Niall O'Connor opened the scoring on six minutes after Bath fell offside defending their 22 from a rapid counter-attack by flanker David Pollock and hooker Nigel Brady.

Almost from the restart Nicky Little had a chance to pull Bath level but struck the post from 35 metres and the ball was cleared.

Ulster continued their bright start, setting up position in the Bath 22 with a clever kick through by Darren Cave. Centre partner Paddy Wallace then wriggled through a gap to threaten the Bath line but Ulster knocked on from the ensuing ruck.

Bath found themselves under needless pressure when the pack were penalised en masse for gathering too slowly for a line-out. Ulster worked the ball to Stephen Ferris who drove into the Bath defence, setting up a ruck from which Julian Salvi was penalised. O'Connor made it 6-0 from in front of the posts with 19 minutes gone.

Ulster had made all the running in the first quarter but Bath snatched the lead almost straight away as Ulster failed to gather the restart and the ball was moved quickly through the hands for Joe Maddock to send England wing Matt Banahan in at the corner. Little converted from the touchline.

Little conjured an excellent kick out of hand to force Ulster into their own 22 but the Irishmen mauled their way out of danger from the lineout.

With the Ulster line-out functioning well and O'Connor now finding his range with his own tactical kicks, the visitors soon returned to the attack.

On the half-hour Bath found themselves under pressure again and Matt Carraro was penalised for diving in at the side of a ruck. O'Connor chose to chip to the corner rather than the posts and Ulster turned up the pressure again with a catch and drive.

As a ruck broke up on 32 minutes, referee Jerome Garces called Grewcock over and showed him the red card. TV replays showed that he had stamped on Ferris's arm after the Lions blindside flanker had held his foot.

O'Connor kicked the penalty and Bath held out until half-time. But Ulster scored immediately after the break and what a try it was.

Simon Danielli fielded a kick on his own 22 and made ground before linking with Andrew Trimble. The Irish wing set off on a 65 metre run to the Bath line, deceiving Little with a clever change of pace before touching down.

Seven minutes later Danielli was the creator again, setting off on an 80-metre run of his own before offloading to Cave for a try that had the travelling Ulster fans on their feet. This time O'Connor had no difficulty with the conversion.

Little pulled back three points with a penalty at the other end but Bath's efforts to get back into the game were increasingly frantic.

Instead it was Ulster who wrapped things up shortly before time when Wallace wriggled through under the posts.

But it was not enough to seal a quarter-final spot, although the Irish province may yet gain a place in the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Try: Banahan
Con: Little
Pen: Little

For Ulster:
Tries: Trimble, Cave, Wallace
Cons: O'Connor 2
Pens: O'Connor 3

Bath: 15 Joe Maddock, 14 Michael Stephenson, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Shontayne Hape, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Nicky Little, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Jules Salvi, 6 Andrew Beattie, 5 Stuart Hooper, 4 Danny Grewcock, 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 David Barnes, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Peter Short, 20 Jonny Fa'amatuainu, 21 Scott Bemand, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Ulster: 15 Jamie Smith, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Chris Henry (capt), 7 David Pollock, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Bryan Young, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 TJ Anderson, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Timoci Nagusa.

Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert (France), Jerome Lamirand (France)
Television match official: Daniel Gillet (France)