The Welsh cup winners have found the level of competition more like a giant leap than a step up ever since they went down to a record 108-16 defeat to Toulouse in the opening week of their Pool C campaign.
Yesterday, though, they would have expected to do much better at Eugene Cross Park against an Ulster side who had not exactly been pulling up arboretums. Vale at home are, after all, pretty formidable opposition on the domestic scene. Obviously the news hadn't filtered across the Irish Sea. Simon Mason led the rout for Ulster, kicking 26 points as his side romped home for their first European win this season. Mason, who has 52 points from three cup matches, finished the game with a 100 per cent record. He converted all his side's seven tries and landed all four penalties.
Ebbw Vale, still waiting for their first win in the cup this term, were 33-13 down at half-time. They came back with some spirit to cut the deficit to 28-40, but Ulster added three tries in the last 15 minutes.
The Irish backs enjoyed good, clean possession, inspired by outside-half and captain David Humphreys, who scored two tries.
Ebbw Vale fielded the Wales No. 8 Mark Jones, who will know next week the length of his ban after being sent off for a punch against Pontypridd.
Munster put up a fierce fight before falling to group favourites Perpignan 41-24 in Pool B. The Irish side, taking heart from their fellow countrymen Leinster, who beat Begles-Bordeaux on Friday night, scored three tries but found the French just too strong. Outside- half Barry Everitt, captain and Irish international lock Mick Galwey and outside half Killian Keane got the tries, with Keane adding three conversions and a penalty. The French international No. 10 Didier Camberabero kicked three conversions and a penalty to supplement his side's six tries.
Glasgow Caledonians can all but wave goodbye to the competition after falling to a 34-16 defeat at Colomiers. They faced a pretty tough challenge in Pool D beforehand but with Italian side Treviso winning at Pontypridd on Friday it now looks like a three-cornered fight to reach the next round.
West Hartlepool remain rooted to the bottom of the Allied Dunbar Premiership after going down 41-23 at Richmond. They trailed only 12-9 at half-time but Richmond pulled away in the later stages. The Argentinian scrum-half Agustin Pichot, full-back Lee Best and Welsh back rower Scott Quinnell scored two tries each with Nick Walne grabbing the other.
Cardiff's previously smooth progress in their Anglo-Welsh friendly series seems to have hit a few bumps of late and Sale gave them another painful lesson on the road by sending them to a 34-25 defeat. Swansea kept Welsh heads high, though, by overcoming Severnside rivals Gloucester 27-16.Reuse content