Three tries in the last 10 minutes gave Bordeaux a stunning 28-13 home victory over Ulster in the Champions Cup on Sunday.
Ulster held a slender lead until late into the second-half through an Andrew Trimble try and a brace of Paddy Jackson penalties.
Although the Irish side led for much of the match, their performance wasn’t convincing and was marred by a litany of handling errors and turnovers. The visitors rarely threatened with ball in hand and failed to be clinical enough in the UBB 22.
The hosts kept in touch with two Ian Madigan penalties and when replacement Lionel Beauxis nailed another at the start of the second half, the French club was back in the contest.
However, Ulster thought they’d quelled the home resistance with Jackson’s 56 minute penalty. That barrage of late tries brought the hosts home with plenty to spare, though.
A good opening for Bordeaux-Bégles, therefore, but Ulster will be disappointed to have left with nothing. Given the sad news in Paris regarding Anthony Foley, none of that seems to matter too much.
Madigan got the hosts off the mark on three minutes when he slotted a penalty, punishing Ulster for sloppiness in possession. The first few minutes were quite fractured, as both sides struggled to retain the ball as the pitch cut up all over the place.
Ulster were more energetic and responded with a fine try on 20 minutes. With the Irish side set up in the hosts’ 22, Ulster secured quick ball and from there Pienaar quickly found Trimble on the short side. The Irish winger cut a lovely line to evade the home defence and touch down under the posts. Jackson converted to give Ulster a 7-3 lead.
Despite this impetus, the game failed to come to life. Bordeaux struggled to create much in attack, relying on speculative Garryowens from Madigan.
Ulster, for their part, were a little too narrow and predictable in attack, and suffered from a series of turnovers in good positions. The home defence was very resolute in its scramble, but the Irish visitors were guilty of way too many handling errors in the red zone.
Indeed, the Irishmen seemed to have got over for a second try on 36 minutes after Pienaar made a fine break, taking out several defenders in the process. Ulster prop Andrew Warwick should have finished it off, but fumbled with the line at his mercy.
However, Bordeaux were penalised for failing to get the ball away from the ensuing scrum; the patchy pitch impeding their efforts to clear. Jackson nailed the simple kick to put the visitors 10-3 ahead at the break.
Madigan got a penalty back for the hosts at the beginning of the second period to trim the Ulster lead to four. And the French club made it a one point ball game on 54 minutes when Beauxis slotted a long range penalty.
The momentum had certainly shifted at the start of the second-half, but Jackson alleviated some of the pressure with a 56 minute Ulster penalty. What followed was a bombardment of the Ulster line as UBB applied fierce pressure to the visitors with their rolling maul.
It was energy-sapping stuff, but the Ulster defence repelled them time and again. But the Irishmen could only hold out for so long. Amid some desperate scrambling and aimless kicking, the hosts pounded the Ulster line on 64 minutes.
Although they were held out initially, big Sébastien Taofifenua held off the challenge of several Ulster defenders to score in the corner, Beauxis missing the conversion. Ulster’s goose was well and truly cooked a minute later. Replacement Metuisela Talebula ran the length of the pitch but was held up just short of the line.
However, the speedster managed to get the ball away to Baptiste Serin who couldn’t quite get it down. JP Doyle referred upstairs and the TMO awarded a penalty try; adjudging that Sean Reidy had impeded Serin illegally.
Winger Blair Connor then scored a breakaway try at the end to cement a good home win, but Ulster’s challenge had long since petered out by then.
Tries: Taofifenua, Penalty Try, Connor
Cons: Beauxis 2
Pens: Madigan 2, Beauxis
Pens: Jackson 2
UBB: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Romain Lonca, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cyril Cazeaux, 4 Jandré Marais (c), 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Marc Clerc, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Marco Tauleigne, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Lionel Beauxis, 23 Metuisela Talebula
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble (c), 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Clive Ross, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rory Best, 1 Andy Warwick
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Jacob Stockdale, 23 Rob Lyttle
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant Referees: John Meredith (England), Peter Allan (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
by Rory McGimpsey