Rugby Union: Logan launches fightback

Ulster 6 Wasps 19
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NOT SURPRISINGLY, Ulster still cannot scale the heights of last season and last night's defeat at Ravenhill leaves the European Cup holders in danger of an ignominious first-round exit. Although Wasps threatened to make heavy weather of it, ultimately they won comfortably to move four points clear of Ulster in Pool Three.

Wasps simply had too much firepower up front for the home side, controlling the flow of possession with their rolling mauls, close-in drives and excellent ball retention. But for their recurring inability to convert pressure into points, they would have assuredly won this game with more to spare.

The home side and their supporters were eager to revive the spirit of last year's extraordinary success. A hostile reception greeted the visitors followed by a deafening heroes' welcome from the 10,000-plus crowd.

A couple of punching bouts broke out in the tetchy early exchanges, prompting yellow cards for Mark Blair and Darren Molloy, but it was Andy Ward who set the tone with a couple of big hits on the Wasps pair Bryan Shelbourne and Joe Worsley. The second earned a 45-metre penalty for not releasing which the Simon Mason landed.

Initially, aided by the stiffish breeze, the force was with Ulster and David Humphreys unleashed a barrage of up-and-unders before narrowly failing with a long-range drop goal attempt. None the less, Ulster were too fired up for their own good, conceding a torrent of penalties which enabled Wasps to turn the tide and then turn the screw.

Wasps, trailing 3-0 at half time, got back into the game when Kenny Logan kicked a penalty after 47 minutes. He then gradually kicked the Londoners into a 12-3 lead entering the last quarter.

Mason rewarded a brief flurry from his pack to make it 12-6, but five minutes from time Logan made a brilliant pick up and Will Green was in support for a try in the corner. Typical of his enigmatic night, Logan had the final say with the touch line conversion.

Ulster: Pens S Mason 2. Wasps: Try W Green. Con K Logan. Pens Logan 4.

Ulster: S Mason; J Topping, J Cunningham, J Bell (N Malone 39, T Howe 43), S Bromley; D Humphreys (capt), S Bell; J Fitzpatrick, A Clarke, J Veitayaki, P Johns (G Longwell, 77), M Blair, E Millar (D Topping, h-t), A Ward, T McWairter.

Wasps: J Ufton; J Lewsey, F Waters, M Denny, K Logan; A King, B Shelbourne; D Molloy, T Leota, W Green, A Reed, S Shaw, L Dallaglio, J Worsley, P Schrivener.

Referee: J Jutge (Fr)

Leinster, surprise conquerors of Leicester last week, were dealt a shock themselves last night when they went down 29-17 to Glasgow Caledonians in Pool One.