Ulster 10 Stade Francais 26, 11th October 2008.
If they had got stuck in a bit earlier maybe things would have been different.
OK Ulster were playing into a strong wind and the first half performance against the Ospreys was probably weighing heavily on their minds but if Ulster were to have any chance against the form team in Europe they really should have went out to rattle a nervous Stade Francais in the first twenty minutes.
Instead Ulster opted for containment rather than attack and the pin-point kicks of Beauxis and Hernandes picked them off. The irony is that when Ulster did open it up they matched their French counterparts point for point and with the French pack noticeably tiring in the second half things could have been different.
There were some good points from the game and the team should take away some confidence for this Saturdays fixture against Harlequins. The pack performed well and the front row, lead by Botha, absolutely destroyed their opponents on several occasions. It’s a pity the referee was totally inept in his control of this set piece as the French hooker and tighthead were popping up more often than Stately at a strip show.
Ferris and Caldwell were aggressive in open play, O’Connor and Wallace looked a better combination and Cunningham was sublime in defense fielding every ball kicked in his direction with consummate ease. With Kidney in the stand let’s hope he gets some form of recognition this autumn.
As with the Ospreys game, this match was lost before a ball was kicked. It really was a confidence issue that let Stade get into a comfortable lead. However, the team should take a lot from their performance and if the management can get the physcology right the large travelling support might just be in for a match to remember this coming Saturday.
Come on Ulster!
Ulster Team: (15-9) B Cunningham; C Schifcofske, D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble; N O’Connor, I Boss; (1-8) T Court, R Best (C), BJ Botha, E O’Donoghue, R Caldwell, S Ferris, K Dawson, R Diack
Replacements: (16-22) N Brady, J Fitzpatrick, C Del Fava, M McCullough, C Willis, I Humphreys, P Steinmetz
Stade Francais Team: (15-9) L Beauxis; J Arias, G Bousses, B Liebenberg, J Saubade; J Hernandez, N Oelschig; (1-8) R Roncero, D Szarzewski, D Attoub, A Marchois, S Taylor, Ma Bergamasco, P Rabadan, S Parisse (C)
Replacements: (16-22) M Blin, S Marconnet, P Vigouroux, J Leguizamun, T Bouhraoua, M Bastareaud, Mi Bergamasco
Enjoy the photos below.