herald

Sunday 19 November 2017

Ulster blown away by French aces

Iain Henderson in action for Ulster against La Rochelle
Iain Henderson in action for Ulster against La Rochelle

La Rochelle moved alongside Saracens and Leinster as the three clubs to take ten points away from the opening two rounds of the Champions Cup.

The French upstarts looked irresistible in brushing aside Ulster 41-17 to take a firm grip on Pool 1 in a special atmosphere at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

The Ulster evolution under Director of Rugby Les Kiss met with a different type of animal yesterday.

This French club are reminiscent of their 1980s national team in that they look to move the ball from everywhere and keep it alive at all costs.

It would be easy to dismiss this as the 'same old Ulster' in light of how many times they have failed to turn-up on their European travels in the past.

However, they matched their hosts in the first half, with Charles Piutau as inventive as ever and Christian Leali'ifano picking up a try and kicking five points to trail 13-10 at the break.

From there, they were simply blown away by the relentless pressure and panache of the home side, Kevin Gourdon, Pierre Aguillon and All Blacks Victor Vito and Jason Eaton striking for four more tries.

These all came against a late consolation from Tommy Bowe and sent out an ominous warning of a 'dark horse' rearing up.

In the Challenge Cup, Connacht moved three points ahead of Worcester in Pool 5 with a 15-8 win at The Sportsground.

Jack Carty's grubber was gathered by Matt Healy for Carty to make it a 10-point game.

Every point is precious and Worcester's bonus from Jono Lance's penalty could come back to haunt The Westerners.

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