Ulster had an emphatic 41-7 victory over the Leicester Tigers at Ravenhill with tries from Andrew Trimble (2), Craig Gilroy and Paul Marshall.
Trimble scored two tries in the first half only for Gilroy and second half substitute Paul Marshall secure the bonus point with two late tries in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Ruan Pienaar was a massive factor in Ulster’s win, as the South African scrum half made eight out of his nine kicks, scoring 21 points in total.
Ulster had a dream start to the game when Stefan Terblanche made up for an earlier blunder and his catch and run started a brilliant passing move for the home team.
Ulster used quick passing to work the ball past the Leicester defence and their width was shown when Andrew Trimble put the ball over for five points right by the right corner flag.
Ulster converted the try and scored a penalty just five minutes later through Pienaar, to go 10-0 up within the first seven minutes and Leicester had a lot to do if they hoped to catch the home team.
They did just that and just two minutes after Pienaar’s penalty from the halfway line, Geordan Murphy had pulled a try back for Leicester.
Ben Youngs received the ball from the breakdown and his swirling pass pulled in Trimble who tried to intercept it which allowed Murphy the space to exploit and score Leicester’s first try, which Billy Twelvetrees converted to make it 10-7.
Leicester enjoyed most of the possession for the rest of the half but a mistake on the halfway line was punished by Pienaar after his brilliant kick from a penalty put Ulster 13-7 up in the 33rd minute.
Terblanche’s chipped kick over the top caught Leicester napping just before half time, and Andrew Trimble put Horacio Agulla under pressure, which forced the Leicester player to concede the scrum on his own tryline, which resulted in Trimble’s second try from the exact position of his first.
Pienaar narrowly missed the conversion, his only misplaced kick of the game, and the home team went into the break with an 11 point lead as well as outperforming Leicester in the first half.
Ulster were sloppy in their start to the second half and gifted Leicester the opportunity to pull three points back but Twelvetrees fluffed his lines and hit the post from what should have been an easy kick, which seemed to spur the home team on.
Twelvetrees looked shell-shocked after that miss and he made a number of mistakes after it, as Ruan Pienaar went on to kick three consecutive penalties in the next 10 minutes to put Leicester 20 points behind.
Ill-discipline started to creep into the away side and in the 65th minute, Dan Cole was sin-binned for expressing some choice words to the referee.
Ulster took advantage of their extra man in the 70th minute when a brilliant quick passing move involving their South African duo, Pedrie Wannenburg and Pienaar, ended with Craig Gilroy scoring the third try of the game for the home team, which Pienaar converted.
Just three minutes later, substitute Paul Marshall took advantage of the dropped heads and concentration levels of Leicester when he took a quick penalty around the 22 metre line and scored the bonus try for Ulster.
Ravenhill was ecstatic as Pienaar converted to make it 41-7 to Ulster and cries of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” resounded around the stadium.
Leicester half-heartedly tried to mount a consolation try but the Ulster defence stood strong and the referee blew the final whistle to lift Ulster clear at the top of their pool.
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Ulster 41 – 7 Leicester,8pm, Ravenhill.
Ulster: Trimble 6min (try), 40min (try), Pienaar 7min (conv), 12min (pen), 33min (pen), 53min (pen), 56min (pen), 63min (pen), 71min (conv), 74min (conv), Gilroy 70min (try), Marshall 73min (try).
Leicester: Murphy 14min (try), Twelvetrees 15min (conv).
Full time A resounding victory for Ulster as they absolutely blitzed the Leicester Tigers, especially in the second half. Ulster’s pack was extremely strong in the face of Leicester while their backline much quicker to the ball, with Pienaar and Trimble in particular looking particularly impressive. Ulster now top their Pool by seven points, with Clermont playing Aironi tomorrow.
80min Leicester can’t get past Ulster’s rearguard as the clock ticks into the red. Tuilagi drops the ball and the referee blows the final whistle.
79min Leicester win a penalty in their own half and kick to touch inside Ulster’s 22 metre line.
78min Leicester put together a good attacking move but it ends with a forward pass by Chuter.
77min Ulster make a host of changes for the last few minutes with Afoa coming off for Nigel Brady.
76min Ulster win a penalty as Leicester try to attack. Swing Low Sweet Chariot is sung all around the Ravenhill Stadium, revelling in Leicester’s misery.
75min Cole is back from the sin bin and Ravenhill erupts with noise everytime Ulster oppose anything Leicester do. Ulster really have the bit between their teeth now.
74min Pienaar makes no mistake from close range with the conversion, 41-7.
73min TRY to ULSTER! Paul Marshall takes a quick penalty and runs in unopposed to score the bonus try for Ulster. Great play by the scrum half.
71min Pienaar makes the conversion. 34-7 to Ulster.
70min TRY to ULSTER! Brilliant try by Ulster finished by Craig Gilroy. Great play and quick passing by Pienaar and Wannenburg set up the young Ulster winger to make it 32-7 to the home team.
69min Ulster attack again as Whitten nearly steps inside the Leicester defence.
68min Tuilagi is penalised for a stamp on an Ulster player. Nothing going Leicester’s way in this half.
67min Paul Marshall comes on for Ian Humphries as Pienaar will move to outhalf.
66min Leicester have barely been in Ulster’s half in the second half of this match and the home team have a scrum.
65min Leicester’s Dan Cole is sin-binned for some choice words to the referee. Ill-discipline taking over the Leicester ranks now.
63min Pienaar makes no mistake with a perfect kick, 27-7 to Ulster.
62min Ulster win a penalty from a scrum just outside Leicester’s 22 metre line. Pienaar will go for the posts.
61min Jeremy Staunton comes in for Leicester at outhalf and Twelvetrees moves to outside centre in place of Smith.
60min Youngs loses his temper at Humphries and the referee has a word with both captains as Leicester try to break but Ulster win the penalty.
59min Poor clearance kick from Leicester gives a lineout to Ulster which they score a try from but the referee calls play back for a foul against Leicester.
58min Ian Whitten comes on for Darren Cave as Leicester take the lineout.
57min Ulster turn the ball over once again and Paddy Wallace kicks to touch just inside Leicester’s 22.
56min The South African has done it again, another three points for Pienaar. 24-7 to Ulster.
55min Ulster win another penalty in a similar position to where Pienaar just scored from and the scrum half will go for the points again.
53min Another excellent kick from Ruan Pienaar puts Ulster 14 points ahead. 21-7 to the home team now.
52min Ulster win a penalty on a couple of metres inside Leicester’s half and Pienaar will try to an extend the lead with a kick.
51min Leicester attempt to open up the Ulster defence by spreading the play across the field but Trimble intercepts and wins possession back for the home team.
50min A scrum to Leicester ends with a penalty for them because a infringement from Ferris and Twelvetrees kicks to touch.
48min Tuilagi is in trouble for a high tackle but the referee lets him away with a talking to.
46min Twelvetrees is truly shaken here as his clearance kick goes straight to Humphries and Ulster launch another attack. Leicester win a scrum however to relieve the pressure again.
45min Another lineout to Ulster begins an attack for them as Gilroy steps inside on left wing, metres from scoring a try. Ulster go into their 6th phase of attack but Leicester win a penalty to relieve pressure.
44min Leicester try to react but another mistake from Twelvetrees puts the ball out for a lineout which Ulster take quickly.
43min Twelvetrees hits the post from a central position on Ulster’s 22. The home team’s sloppy start is let off the hook by Leicester’s poor kicking.
42min Leicester win a penalty from the ruck and there’s a bit of fighting after the whistle is blown. Leicester will go for the posts here as Anthony Allen receives treatment on the field.
41min Back underway at Ravenhill and Ulster give away a lineout needlessly.
Half time Ulster go into the changing rooms at half time with an 11 point lead, having scored two tries in the first 40 minutes. The home team came out strong and finished in the same manner. It’s been an entertaining match so far but Ulster look more hungry despite Leicester enjoying more possession in a scoreless period between their try and Ulster’s last. Ulster will be looking for more of the same in the next 40 minutes.
40+1min Ruan Pienaar pulls his conversion just slightly off target as the teams go in for half time.
40min TRY to ULSTER! The scrum is retaken and Trimble scores a try in the exact position of his first try at the corner flag. The referee has to go to the TMO but that’s a try for Ulster.
38min Terblanche’s kick over the top puts Agulla under pressure from Trimble and that’s great play by Ulster to try to end the half on high. Scrum to the home team just metres from Leicester’s tryline.
37min Scrappy play on the half way line as Ulster win a scrum.
35min Ulster win a penalty inside their own half and Humphries kicks for a lineout which Leicester the better of.
33min Pienaar’s kick is spot on and he extends Ulster’s lead to 6 points. 13-7 to Ulster.
32min Ulster win a penalty on the halfway in the centre and it looks like Pienaar will try and go for the posts.
31min The ball goes dead and Ulster kick it back to Leicester. Possession stats for the last 10 minutes shows that Ulster have less than 30% of the ball while Leicester have over 70%.
29min The ball eventually comes out of the scrum and Leicester are kept on the halfway line.
28min Scrum to Leicester in Ulster’s half.
26min Good play from Trimble who finds Gilroy on the wing but and the ball rolls out for a lineout.
25min Leicester are on the attack again but once again a poor kick in behind is easily caught by an Ulster player. Ulster give it straight back to the away side however.
24min Leicester work the ball across the pitch and their attack eventually ends with a poor chipped kick by Ben Youngs which is caught by Craig Gilroy who calls his mark.
23min Both teams use the long kicking method to put each other under pressure but it’s Leicester who finally carry the ball down the right wing.
21min Ulster are penalised for not releasing the ball and Twelvetrees kicks for a lineout to Leicester.
20min Good kick by Humphries whose grubber kick puts Twelvetrees under pressure and the Leicester out-half is forced to give away a lineout deep inside his own half.
19min The scrum collapses and Leicester receive a penalty.
18min Leicester win the put in to a scrum after Afoa fails to release the ball.
17min Ulster right back up Leicester’s half as Trimble tries to step inside the away side’s defence but instead wins a penalty which Pienaar takes quickly.
15min Twelvetrees makes no mistake with the conversion. 10-7 to Ulster.
14min TRY to LEICESTER! Leicester do react immediately with a try from Irishman Geordan Murphy. Great try that can be credited to scrum half Ben Youngs whose pass sucked in the Ulster defence and allowed Murphy to go over the line for five points.
13min Leicester need to get some points on the board before the home team start to run away with it and they attempt to after winning a scrum in Ulster’s half.
12min Pienaar makes the kick from the halfway line. Brilliant kick to put Ulster 10-0 up.
11min Ulster win a penalty as Youngs goes in from the wrong side. Pienaar will go for the posts here.
10min Ulster win the put in to the scrum just inside Leicester’s half. This break in play will take the sting out of Leicester’s reaction.
9min Leicester come so close to an immediate reaction as they were in down the left wing.Tuilagi kicks it forward and it sits up for Geordan Murphy but he is stopped in his tracks with a great tackle by Stephen Ferris.
7min Pienaar puts the conversion over the bar. Great kick from the South African.
6min TRY to ULSTER! Andrew Trimble caps a brilliant attack with a try for Ulster. Excellent play by the home team and that’s a well deserved try, as the backs and forwards combine well to put down for five.
5min Ulster into the 11th phase of attack as their pack drives forward in the face of a resilient Leicester defence.
4min Terblanche makes amends with a much better catch as he steps inside the Leicester defence and gets a brilliant attack by Ulster going strong. The home team inside Leicester’s 22 metre line now.
3min Twelvetrees kicks it back into Ulster’s half but Terblanche makes a mess of his catch and Leicester have possession.
2min Scrum to Ulster and they win a penalty which they take quickly.
1min We’re underway at Ravenhill and Humphries puts the pressure on immediately with his kick but Ben Youngs clears the pressure.
0min Click here for the latest match betting on Ulster v Leicester from Betfair
Ulster Rugby: 15 S Terblanche; 14 A Trimble, 13 D Cave, 12 P Wallace, 11 C Gilroy; 10 I Humphreys, 9 R Pienaar; 1 T Court, 2 R Best, 3 J Afoa, 4 J Muller [capt], 5 D Tuohy, 6 S Ferris, 7 C Henry, 8 P Wannenburg
Replacements: 16 N Brady, 17 C Black, 18 A Macklin, 19 L Stevenson, 20 W Faloon, 21 P Marshall, 22 I Whitten, 23 A D’Arcy
Leicester Tigers: 15 G Murphy [capt]; 14 H Agulla, 13 M Smith, 12 A Allen, 11 A Tuilagi; 10 B Twelvetrees, 9 B Youngs; 1 M Ayerza, 2 R Hawkins, 3 M Castrogiovanni, 4 S Mafi, 5 G Parling, 6 T Croft, 7 J Salvi, 8 T Waldrom
Replacements: 16 G Chuter, 17 B Stankovich, 18 D Cole, 19 E Slater, 20 B Woods, 21 S Harrison, 22 J Staunton, 23 S Hamilton
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
HEINEKEN CUP QUALIFICATION
(i)The Pool winner will be the Club with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool. The runners-up will be the two second placed clubs from all six Pools with the next highest number of points. For the quarter-finals, the Pool winners will be ranked 1 to 6 in terms of the number of points earned. The runners-up will be ranked 7 and 8.
Clubs in the same pool
(ii) if two or more clubs are equal on points and the clubs are in the same Pool, then qualification / ranking will be based on the matches played between the clubs concerned:
(a) the club which has earned the most number of match points from the matches
(b) the club which has scored the most tries in the matches
(c) the club with the best aggregate points difference from the matches
Clubs from different pools
(iii) if still unresolved, or the clubs have not played each other previously in the Pool stage, qualification / ranking will be based on:
(a) the number of tries scored in all Pool matches
(b) aggregate points difference from all Pool matches
(c) the club with the fewest number of players sent off and / or suspended in all Pool matches
(d) toss of a coin
Clubs ranked 1-4 will have home advantage. The quarter-finals will be:
Club 1 v Club 8; Club 2 v Club 7; Club 3 v Club 6; Club 4 v Club 5
Quarter-finals – 6/7/8 April
Semi-finals – 27/28/29 April
Final – Twickenham Stadium, Saturday 19 May (5.00)
AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP
The five Pool winners will qualify for the quarter-finals and will be the clubs with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool. For the quarter-finals, the Pool winners will be ranked 1 to 4 and 8 in terms of the number of points earned.
(i) the Pool winner will be the club with the highest number of match points earned in each Pool.
(ii) where two or more Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners are level on match points then ranking will be based on:
(a) the number of tries scored in all Pool matches.
(b) aggregate points difference from all Pool matches.
(c) the club with the fewest number of players sent off and / or suspended in all Pool matches.
(d) toss of a coin.
The three next best Heineken Cup runners-up (the third, fourth and fifth best) will qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. The top four Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners will have home advantage with the quarter-finalists ranked accordingly:
1 ACC 1 (Top ranked ACC Pool winner)
2 ACC 2 (Second ranked ACC Pool winner)
3 ACC 3 (Third ranked ACC Pool winner)
4 ACC 4 (Fourth ranked ACC Pool winner)
5 Heineken Cup 1
6 Heineken Cup 2
7 Heineken Cup 3
8 ACC 5 (Fifth ranked ACC Pool winner)
The quarter-final pairings will be:
Club 1 v Club 8; Club 2 v Club 7; Club 3 v Club 6; Club 4 v Club 5
Quarter-finals – 5/6/7/8 April
Semi-finals – 27/28/29 April
Final – Twickenham Stoop, Friday, 18 May (8.00)