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Euro campaign ended by defeat at Ulster

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Leicester Tigers' European Rugby Champions Cup campaign ended with a 26-7 defeat to Ulster Rugby in Belfast on Saturday evening.

Tigers finished second in a competitive Pool 3 behind defending European champions Toulon but were unable to qualify for the knockout stages as one of the best runners-up.
 
Chances of qualification were slim going into the game, with Tigers needing to become only the seventh team ever to achieve a bonus-point win in Ulster, and the third in the European Cup, and to rely on results elsewhere in Europe.
 
And so it proved with the Pro12 side scoring four tries of their own at the Kingspan Stadium, including a hat-trick for Heineken Man-of-the-Match Darren Cave, to one for the Tigers by wing Adam Thompstone.
 
Marcos Ayerza and Tom Youngs returned to the Tigers front row for with Michele Rizzo and Leonardo Ghiraldini moving to the bench. Graham Kitchener also returned to the starting line-up as a replacement for Brad Thorn and there was a place on the bench for Niall Morris on his return from injury.
 
Tigers came under pressure in the early stages as Ulster strung together a series of phases inside the Leicester half before good defence won a penalty for holding on.
 
Tigers were forced into an early change when British & Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling took a knock and was replaced by Sebastian de Chaves.
 
Tigers emphasised their intention to play with ball in hand when Tait’s angled run took them from their own tryline up to halfway. But it also came with a risk and Goneva had to be alert to Craig Gilroy’s counterattack down the left wing and shepherd the ball into touch.

Ian Humphreys’ angled kick to the corner had too much on it for the chasing Gilroy, the ball beating the winger dead in goal.
 
Humphreys then turned down a kickable penalty on the Tigers 10m line as Ulster also signalled their intent to go for tries.
 
And they grabbed the game’s first score after 19 minutes, pressure in the Tigers 22 created an overlap on the right where centre Cave was on hand to finish. The try went unconverted as Ulster led 5-0.
 
Burns pounced on loose ball and looked to counterattack from deep. However, the move ended with Iain Henderson diving off his feet to kill the ball midway inside the Leicester half.
 
The penalty allowed Tigers to build in the Ulster half but the hosts were happy to make their tackles and fan out rather than compete at the breakdown.

Tait’s break down the left wing created a half opening but Goneva put a foot in touch with the Ulster defence scrambling back.
 
However, Ulster disrupted Tigers ball on the Leicester 22 and pounced, Humphreys springing through a gap and finding Cave on his shoulder for the centre’s second try. Ruan Pienaar added the conversion to give Ulster a 12-0 half-time lead.
 
Ulster added to that lead with a third try for Cave four minutes after the restart, the centre rode Goneva’s tackle to score at the right corner. Pienaar landed the conversion to move Ulster 19-0 ahead.
 
Ulster threatened again through Gilroy’s mazy run from deep that took him into the Leicester 22. There Goneva was pinged for a high tackle, resulting in the Fiji international receiving a yellow card.
 
And with the backs under-handed Ulster took advantage to score their fourth try and secure the bonus point. It came from a solid scrum inside the Leicester 22, Humphreys’ run sucked in defenders and created the space for Gilroy to score at the left corner. Pienaar added another touchline conversion to move the Pro12 side 26-0 ahead.
 
Tigers hit back with a try of their own to reduce the deficit after 54 minutes. Good lineout work by Kitchener gave them a platform for Thompstone to pick his way through the Ulster defence for his second try in as many games. Burns added the conversion to leave Tigers 26-7 down.
 
Ben Youngs made a smart break and offloaded for Miles Benjamin as Tigers found a spring in their play, but a breakdown penalty against Ulster in the shadow of the posts snuffed out the threat. Their captain Rory Best was spoken to by referee before play resumed with a scrum.
 
A second penalty, this time for not retreating 10, and then a third for pulling down the scrum, quickly followed resulting in Ulster prop Callum Black receiving a yellow card.

Tigers continued to press but solid Ulster defence kept out Seremaia Bai before Goneva was stopped just short of the line.
 
Ulster received a second yellow card of the half with nine minutes remaining when another ruck offence resulted in tighthead Wiehahn Herbst being sent to the sin bin.
 
A lovely show and go by Kitchener created room on the left for Croft to stretch his legs but he was well tackled by last man Jared Payne.
 
But despite the pressure in the final moments, Tigers were unable to find a way through a well-marshalled hosts defence and it was Ulster who finished their European campaign on a winning note.

Match Details

HT ScoreHalf Time Score

ULS 12-0 LEI

FT ScoreFull Time Score

ULS 26-7 LEI

Attendance

15,659

Referee

Pascal Gauzere

Match Stats

Ulster Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Possession
36%
64%
Territory
37%
63%
Penalties Conceded
13
6
Yellow Cards
2
1
Red Cards
0
0
Tackles Won
158/186 85%
83/99 84%
Scrums Won
4/4 100%
6/7 86%
Lineouts Won
11/11 0%
15/15 0%

Player Stats

Ulster Rugby
Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
TCDP
15
141T
13
12Seremaia Bai
11Miles Benjamin
101C
9Ben Youngs
1Marcos Ayerza
2Tom Youngs
3Logovi'i Mulipola
4Graham Kitchener
5Geoff Parling
6
7Julian Salvi
8
16
17Michele Rizzo
18Fraser Balmain
19Sebastian De Chaves
20Robert Barbieri
21
22
23Niall Morris
Ulster Rugby
Ulster Rugby
26

Full Time

Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers
7

Tigers Lineup

Starting XV

13
Seremaia Bai
12
Seremaia Bai
Miles Benjamin
11
Miles Benjamin
10
Marcos Ayerza
1
Marcos Ayerza
Geoff Parling
5
Geoff Parling
Julian Salvi
7
Julian Salvi
8

Subs

16
Fraser Balmain
18
Fraser Balmain
Sebastian De Chaves
19
Sebastian De Chaves
Robert Barbieri
20
Robert Barbieri
22
Niall Morris
23
Niall Morris

Opposition Lineup

Starting XV

15
Jared Payne
14
Tommy Bowe
13
12
Luke Marshall
11
Craig Gilroy
10
Ian Humphreys
9
1
Callum Black
2
3
4
Alan O'Connor
5
6
Iain Henderson
7
8
Roger Wilson

Subs

16
Rob Herring
17
Andrew Warwick
18
19
Lewis Stevenson
20
21
22
Paul Marshall
23
Mike Allen
posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
2
Leicester Tigers
Leicester TigersLEI6303108126-1812151013
3
Ulster Rugby
Ulster RugbyULS6204116146-3016153112
Form Guide
Form
WWLWL
Last Match
Lost to Toulouse 8-36
Past Meeting
Won 14-13
Form
Last Match
Past Meeting
Form
WDWDD
Last Match
Draw with Bayonne null-null
Past Meeting
Lost 13-14

Matchday Live

Ulster Rugby26
Ulster Rugby
Leicester Tigers7
Leicester Tigers
Full Time