EUROPEAN RUGBY: Ulster hit by late Bordeaux blitz in opening group defeat

Ulster's flyhalf Paddy Jackson  is tackled during the European Champions Cup rugby union match against Bordeaux-Begles
Ulster's flyhalf Paddy Jackson is tackled during the European Champions Cup rugby union match against Bordeaux-Begles


Ulster fell to a three-try blitz by Bordeaux in the last eight minutes of their opening European Champions Cup opener.

Leading 13-9 after an hour, Ulster’s defence finally broke under immense Bordeaux pressure, conceding three tries.

Bordeaux had dominated the opening quarter, Ulster soaking up the pressure and restricting the French side to a third minute penalty from the boot of Ian Madigan

Ulster worked their way into the game and after some good up tempo play captain Andrew Trimble took a lovely line to take a pass from Ruan Pienaar and soar through for a try - the perfect way to mark his first appearance of the season.

Outhalf Paddy Jackson slotted over the straight forward conversion for a 7-3 after 20 minutes and he took Ulster into the break 10-3 ahead with a simple penalty goal two minutes before the break.

Bordeaux came out firing in the second half, but Ulster defence held firm when under pressure on their line.

Madigan kicked a penalty on 44 minutes and his replacement, Lionel Beauxis kicked another on 53 minutes to reduce the Ulster lead to a point.

However, having been under pressure on their own line, Ulster turned ball over and from the halfway line Jackson nailed a penalty to make the score 13-9 after 56 minutes.

Ulster remained under the cosh, the defence holding solid for a 10 minute purple patch from the hosts, sometimes living on the edge, but still able to keep them out.

However, it all came unstuck in a two minute period.

Forward pressure saw Sébastien Taofifenua power over for a try, confirmed by TMO.

Then from the restart, Metuisela Talebulamaijaina made a massive break and made the offload inches from the line to Baptiste Serin, but he was bundled into touch by Ulster number eight Sean Reidy.

However, Reidy had made contract early and a penalty try was awarded, with Reidy into the sin-bin. Beauxis converted and Ulster were 21-13 behind.

There was still a chance to rescue a losing bonus point, but replacement scrumhalf Paul Marshall opted for a tap at a penalty - three points would have assured a losing bonus - and ball was lost, Bordeaux got the ball to winger Blair Connor and he ran the length of the pitch to touchdown and Beauxis converted wtih the last kick of the game.

Bordeaux-Bègles: Jean-Marcellin Buttin; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Jean-Baptiste Dubié, Romain Lonca, Blair Connor; Ian Madigan, Yann Lesgourgues; Jefferson Poirot, Clement Maynadier, Vadim Cobilas, Jandré Marais (c), Cyril Cazeaux, Luke Jones, Hugh Chalmers, Loann Goujon

Replacements: Ole Avei, Sébastien Taofifenua, Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Marco Tauleigne, Baptiste Serin, Lionel Beauxis, Metuisela Talebulamaijaina

Ulster Rugby: Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble (c), Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Andy Warwick, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy

Replacements: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Pete Browne, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Lyttle