Ulster rugby fans at the redeveloped Ravenhill became the 15th man for the team on Saturday - making up for Jared Payne who was sent off after four minutes.
Ulster went from favourites to underdogs in minutes from the kick-off after Payne was deemed to have taken Alex Goode out in the air as they both went for a high ball and was sent off.
Ulster rugby fan and editor of ‘Stand Up’ magazine, Ken Arthur, 54, said: “Everyone felt extreme disappointment. The game was there for the taking if there had been 15 men on the pitch. I am just so proud of the players as they gave their all.”
Mr Arthur said after the red card “there was a different atmosphere altogether”.
“Ravenhill is an intimidating place to come to at the best of times, but the crowd last night needed no lifting. We became the 15th man and I think Saracens were worried.”
Secretary of the Ulster Rugby supporters club, Jonathan Bill, said “it would have taken a superhuman effort to win the game [with 14 men]”. “But they showed as good as a superhuman effort when they only lost the game by two points,” he said.
“The player’s have nothing to feel bad about. They put their bodies on the line and could not have given another ounce. It was blood and guts, sheer broad-mindedness and the crowd understood and appreciated that. At the final whistle there were 18,000 people there to thank them.”
by Richard Mulligan
The newly redeveloped Ravenhill welcomed a new capacity crowd for a Heineken Cup tie in Belfast - but the script was ripped to shreds within minutes of the kick-off of the quarter-final tie between Ulster and Ravenhill.
Jared Payne’s correct dismissal after a reckless challenge on Alex Goode left the home side with 14 players. While his team mates battled like superhumans for the remaining 75 minutes to come within two points at the end, it was not the ending Ulster had hoped to the start of a new chapter at the club.
Instead it was an Ulsterman on the opposing club who had reason to be cheerful.
Former Ulster coach Mark McCall returned to his Ravenhill roots and made it one to remember.