EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP: Ulster score eight tries in rout over Oyonnax to keep knockout qualification hopes alive

Ulster  Sean Reidy scores the bonus point try against Qyonnax
Ulster Sean Reidy scores the bonus point try against Qyonnax

ULSTER 56 OYONNAX 3

Ulster were left to play a waiting game after securing their try scoring bonus point by half time against Oyonnax on Saturday afternoon at Kingspan Stadium.

After an hour’s play Ulster were 56-3 ahead having scored eight tries and as many conversions.

It leaves them on 18 points in second place in Pool One and they now need a number of results to go their way in the final round of games across the other two groups to see if they can qualify as one of the best three runners-up.

Needing a try scoring bonus point, Ulster signalled their intention from their kick-off, turning ball over and Robbie Diack made a thundering charge into the Oyonnax ‘22’. Ball was moved left where Oyonnax were caught offisde.

Paddy Jackson opted to put the kick to touch, the driving maul of the lineout was stopped, Darren Cave was high tackled, Paul Marshall quick tapped and was stopped inches from the line, but captain and hooker Rob Herring picked up and dove over for the try confirmed by the TMO.

Jackson’s conversion was good and Ulster had a 7-0 lead and one try in the bank after just over two minutes.

A penalty from Rory Clegg pulled three points back for Oyonnax on nine minutes.

After some sloppy play by Ulster were spurned a couple of opportunities and as well as wasting a penalty to touch opportunity with crossing, Herring and Diack combined to put Jared Payne into space. The fullback made ground and timed his pass perfectly into the hands of Cave who crossed. Jackson again converted and it was 14-3 as the first quarter came to a close.

Clegg then failed with his second penalty attempt.

The third try was worth waiting for. Payne popped ball out to Luke Marshall he made space on the flank, gave inside to Jackson and he drew his marker to feed Rory Scholes who had just come on for Andrew Trimble who went off temporarily with a blood injury, and score with his first touch of the ball. Jackson nailed his third conversion for a 21-3 advantage after 27 minutes.

Ulster built patiently as the half came to a close.and were rewarded with their bonus point securing fourth try when Sean Reidy went over. Jackson made if four from four and a 28-0 lead at the break.

There was still the need to rack up the points from the aggregate points difference in case it came down to that as the other groups progressed and eight minutes into the second half Ulster grabbed a fifth try.

An early assault led by Luke Marshall, saw Gilroy’s pass to Trimble off the mark, but Ulster regathered and it was Gilroy who went over for the score.

Jackson maintained his kicking return with a fifth straight conversion and that was his action as he was replaced by Ian Humphreys, with Roger Wilson coming on for Franco van der Merwe, meaning Diack moved into the second row.

After lengthy consultation with the TMO, Ulster’s Diack was awarded try number six after going over from close range following a great break by Reidy who was stopped short.

Replacement outhalf Humphreys carried on where Jackson had left off, nailing a touchline conversion and Ulster were 42-3 ahead after 54 minutes.

After 58 minutes, off lineout ball, Paul Marshall’s pass was taken by Humphreys and he raced away with a nice turn of pace to score under the posts and give himself an easy conversion and minutes later he was teeing up his third after Payne cut through on the hour mark after taking a pass from Cave to send the score out to 56.

SATURDAY’S TEAMS:

Ulster Rugby: Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Kyle McCall, Rob Herring (c), Ricky Lutton, Alan O’Connor, Franco Van Der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Nick Williams

Replacements: Rory Best, Callum Black, Bronson Ross, Clive Ross, Roger Wilson, David Shanahan, Ian Humphreys, Rory Scholes

Oyonnax: Florian Denos (c); Daniel Ikpefan, Guillaume Bousses, Alaska Taufa, Dug Codjo; Rory Clegg, Julien Blanc; Soane Tonga’uiha, Thomas Bordes, Giorgi Vepkhvadze, Leon Power, Geoffrey Fabbri, Valentin Ursache, Pierrick Gunther, Pedrie Wannenburg

Replacements: Jeremie Maurouard, Laurent Delboulbès, Horace Pungea , Fabrice Metz, Maurie Fa’asavalu, Fabien Cibray, Regis Lespinas, Eamonn Sheridan