A second half blitz from Racing 92 see them run out 44-12 winners against Ulster tonight.
Dave Shanahan and Jacob Stockdale scored Ulster’s tries in the first half and no points after the 21st minute was costly for this young Ulster side.
Racing’s gameplan was evident from the off, they were keen on hitting the one-out runners in an attempt to soften up the Ulster defence. Nevertheless Ulster signaled their intent with their first touch of the ball. Instead of the usual McCloskey bash up the middle, the inside centre pulled the ball back for Billy Burns who spotted a gap. A jinking run from Addison worked the space and Shanahan gathered the offload to sprint in from 22 metres.
Despite a great start to the game, Ulster were forced to play ten minutes of the match down to 14 men after 15 minutes when Nick Timoney was sent to the sin bin for an illegal clear out at the ruck.
Ulster’s good form continued with the man disadvantage. Billy Burns found Craig Gilroy with the cross kick and while, Gilroy was unable to offload to Michael Lowry, another cross kick to Stockdale’s wing caught Teddy Thomas out of position and allowed the Wallace man to score out wide.
Problems at scrum time remain as a backwards scrum resulted in a try for Teddy Iribaren. Racing’s tighthead got his side up on Andy Warwick and an exposed blindside created a simple two-on-one opportunity. Another one followed shortly after giving the home side the lead for the first time in the match. Wenceslas Lauret was the beneficiary. However, how there was no call to the TMO for a knock on in the build up is baffling.
Finn Russell knocked over a penalty in the last kick of the half to give the home side an eight point lead.
Racing went through the gears in the second half and extended their lead through Juan Imhoff. The Argentine winger ran a great support line and received a pass from Olivier Klemenczak. A few mistakes were creeping into Ulster’s game and a penalty allowed Russell to put 18 points between the sides.
Racing’s ball retention improved in the second half making it difficult for Ulster to get any territory with the ball. Ulster were living off scraps and while they were still creating line breaks, silly errors prevented them from capitalizing on them.
Ill discipline also wasn’t helping with stupid penalties pinning them back in their own half. As the game approached the last 15 minutes, Ulster finally got a foothold in the game and spent a decent amount of time in the Racing half. Nothing came of it and Teddy Thomas broke away to secure the bonus point. Finn Russell dinked the Ulster defence and regathered and Thomas ran an inside line to finish from 40 metres.
Try number five followed with just over three minutes on the clock as Simon Zebo crossed in the corner, leaving the final score 44-12 in favour of the hosts. Ultimately, Racing stepped up in the second half and ran out deserved winners. I’ll be very surprised if they’re not in contention for the trophy come the end of the season.
Despite a heavy defeat, I’m more positive about Ulster’s style of play and where they are heading compared to the same time last season.
It was a tale of two halves for Ulster. In the first half they looked confident in their game plan but after the interval, Racing never looked like losing.
Will Addison still looks like a cut above and delivered another classy perfroamnce from outside centre. Dave Shanahan also provided quick ball from the base of the ruck and took his try well.
I thought Billy Burns put in a very good performance from out half and looked sharp on the break while Marcell Coetzee showed how good he can be at the breakdown and in the loose. Michael Lowry continues to provide a spark from full back and I would stick with him in the PRO14.
- Andy Warwick
- Rory Best
- Marty Moore
- Iain Henderson
- Kieran Treadwell
- Marcell Coetzee
- Jordi Murphy
- Nick Timoney
- Dave Shanahan
- Billy Burns
- Jacob Stockdale
- Stuart McCloskey
- Will Addison
- Craig Gilroy
- Michael Lowry
- Adam McBurney
- Eric O'Sullivan
- Ross Kane
- Alan O'Connor
- Sean Reidy
- Jonny Stewart
- Johnny McPhillips
- Angus Kernohan