Match Report: Ulster home in on last eight with first win in France

Castres 8 Ulster 9


Ulster clinched a first Heineken Cup victory on French soil here yesterday to guarantee home advantage in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Although not at their best in a scrappy affair, the visitors finished the stronger of the two sides and claimed the points courtesy of three penalties from Ruan Pienaar.

Castres had led early on thanks to a well-worked try from Rémi Lamerat but failed to build on their supremacy against the Pool Four winners, who rallied after half-time.

Ulster, made six changes to the team that beat Glasgow 23-6 at Ravenhill last Friday, while Castres also made significant alterations, including an entire new back row.

Last season's finalists made a strong start to the game, but it was first blood to Castres, after some fantastic work by Scotland's Max Evans. The 29-year-old managed to keep the ball in play as he was tackled on the wing and off-loaded to Piula Faasalele who, in turn, passed inside to Lamerat for the centre to finish in style.

Shortly after the restart, Castres' Mathieu Babillot was penalised at the breakdown and Pienaar – who has stated he wants to sign a new contract with the club – made no mistake to register Ulster's first points of the match.

Castres continued to press, however, and were awarded a penalty of their own when Paddy Wallace was penalised for a swinging arm.

Unlike with his failed conversion attempt, Rory Kockott made no mistake with the penalty to give Castres an 8-3 lead. Top spot and qualification to the quarter-finals was already assured for Ulster but they knew that only a win would guarantee a home tie in the last eight.

Although the Ulstermen were sloppy for the majority of the first half, a penalty for obstruction four minutes from the break gave Pienaar a chance to reduce the gap which he gratefully accepted.

The fly-off was less clinical with another penalty opportunity following a scrum infringement, leaving the half-time score 8-6 to Castres.

After an uneventful opening 10 minutes to the second period, the hosts were awarded a penalty inside their own half and Kockott made the ambitious decision to go for the posts. His mighty kick had the length but not the direction and the miss was to prove costly.

Mark Anscombe, the Ulster coach, introduced Paddy Jackson, the replacement scrum-half, close to the hour mark in the hope of giving his team some much-needed spark.

Ulster then started to improve and when a penalty was awarded in front of the posts after Mihaita Lazar was punished for being offside, Pienaar kicked it to edge Ulster ahead for the first time.

The visitors seemed to be buoyed by Pienaar's kick and started to enjoy a much healthier share of the ball as they controlled the remainder of the game.

Anscombe admitted afterwards that his team struggled in the early part of the encounter. "We were very flat in the first half, we kept giving the ball away and couldn't get our lineout going," he said.

"It wasn't pretty. They are the sort of side that don't make it easy for you, but the character of the guys saw us through in the end.

"It was good to tick that box and get that first win in France in the Heineken Cup.

"I said at half-time that if we get the ball and play some rugby, opportunities would come.

"We could not come here and expect to score four tries, but there were opportunities and holes in Castres. We just needed to take a bit more care with the ball."

Castres P Bernard; M Evans, S Baikeinuku (M Andreu, 51), R Lamerat (P Bonnefond, 62), M Garvey; R Tales, R Kockott (T Lacrampe, 55); Y Forestier (S Taumoepeau, 45), M Rallier (B Mach, 61), A Peikrishvili (M Lazar, 53), M Rolland (capt; I Tekori, 70), C Samson; M Babillot (J Bornman, 55), P Faasalele, P Wannenburg.

Ulster C Gilroy; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, M Allen; R Pienaar, P Marshall (P Jackson, 55); T Court, R Best, J Afoa, L Stevenson, N McComb, R Diack, C Henry (capt), R Wilson (I Henderson, 28).

Referee N Owens (Wales).


Try: Lamerat

Pen: Kockott


Pens: Pienaar 3

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little