RACING 92 44 ULSTER 12
Ulster suffered a heavy defeat in Paris on Saturday night when Racing 92 raced away in a powerful second half display.
Having started impressively in the Paris La Defense Arena Ulster had taken a 12-3 lead, but in the end Racing proved too strong going into the break leading 20-12 and powering on to take a bonus point win and go top of Pool Four with two wins from two.
The Irish Province will certainly take some positives from the game, but again lacking a clinical edge on occasions let them down.
Any concerns there were around how Ulster might cope with playing indoors, on a 4G pitch and facing Pool Four's top seeds were quickly dispelled as the Irish Province made a blistering start in Paris.
A lovely phase of play eventually led to scrumhalf Dave Shanahan going over after four minutes for a try, which outhalf Billy Burns converted for a 7-0 lead.
Finn Russell kicked a penalty four minutes later and then Ulster found themselves down to 14 men for 10 minutes when Nicky Timoney was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on 15 minutes.
Ulster weathered the storm and indeed stunned Racing when they scored a second try. Burns' crossfield kick to winger Craig Gilroy was taken well by the Ulsterman but he was unable to get an offload away. However, Burns then switched to the other flank, another crossfield kick was put on a plate for Irish international Jacob Stockdale, who went in at the corner for the unconverted try after 21 minutes.
But, having got back to 15 men, Racing caught Ulster napping on the blindside at a scrum and replacement scrumhalf, Teddy Iribaren, had a simple task of running in with Russell converting to reduce the deficit to 10-12.
Racing had the momentum now and on the 31st minute went into the lead for the first time when Wenceslas Lauret goes over and Russell adds the extra. A penalty with the last play of the half from Russell sends them in leading 20-12 at the break.
Ulster sent out Eric O'Sullivan (for Moore) and Sean Reidy (for Timoney) at the start of the second half, but Racing struck again after just four minutes when Juan Imhoff crosses and Russell converts, adding a penalty to make it 30-12 on 48 minutes.
There was still endeavour from Ulster and no giving up, but they just saw passes go to ground when in good positions. They kept pushing to at least make their case for a losing bonus point but, even with the bench being emptied, they just could not find a way through.
On the 68th minute a piece of magic from Racing outhalf Russell saw him chip and gather and then send Teddy Thomas away for the bonus point securing fourth try and send them top of the table by four points from Leicester Tigers who had a bonus point win over Scarlets on Friday night.
Simon Zebo crossed a minute from the end as the Ulster defence was stretched, although referee Nigel Owens made the former Irish international apologise for poor gamesmanship to young Ulster fullback Michael Lowry as he ran in for the try.