Bordeaux-Begles (3) 28
TRY: Sébastien Taofifenua, Penalty Try, Blair Connor. CON: Lionel Beauxis (2). PEN: Ian Madigan (2) Lionel Beauxis
Ulster (10) 13
TRY: Andrew Trimble. CON: Paddy Jackson. PEN: Paddy Jackson (2).
Ulster continue to be the “Kings of Capitulation” as they once again crumbled in the final quarter to throw away a European game that they really should have won.
I’d said at the start of the season that spending an alleged £600K on Charles Piutau was money spent in the wrong area as we needed a big growler up front to secure the ball in the first place but as we went round the bars of Bordeaux on Saturday evening I found myself defending our forwards stating that the Connacht defeat was just a blip.
I did have my words fed back to me on Sunday evening, and deservedly so, as once again our big boys ran out of puff (or desire to win) to give us a fairly brutal final quarter where they conceded three tries in eight minutes!
Up until then I’d been fairly happy as Ulster battled out a 3 – 10 half time lead, thanks to an early penalty from Paddy Jackson and a converted try from Andrew Trimble. Bordeaux didn’t look to have much to worry us and by the 30th minute their forwards looked to be blowing hard.
As the tragic news came in at half time regarding Anthony Foley the game did become somewhat secondary for the supporters but with half an eye on the opening exchanges after the restart I do remember thinking it’ll be a big ten from our hosts and Ulster will then start to pull away. However, by twenty minutes in I was getting worried that these boys weren’t going to go away as their forwards started to make deeper and deeper inroads against the first line of Ulster’s defence.
I’d still say, that even at that point, Ulster still had the ability, and chances, to close out the game but poor player management and even worse decision making from the guys on the pitch turned a bit of hard running from the hosts into a complete disintegration as first Sebastien Taofifenua barged over to edge the French club ahead eight minutes from the end. A penalty try and a breakaway by Blair Connor completed the rout with Bauxis converting both to push the final score to Bordeaux 28 Ulster 13.
Ulster: Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar, Andrew Warwick, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy. Replacements: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Pete Browne, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Lyttle.
Interestingly, after the game, Ulster’s Operations Director Bryn Cunningham said: “The second half was nothing short of atrocious. I am absolutely gobsmacked at how we played to be honest.” Which doesn’t bode well for moral in the camp and certainly all the blame does not solely lie at the feet of the players, there have been some shocking decisions taken elsewhere in the organisation in my book.
I’m not one of these supporters that thinks the team owes me something because I take time out to go and support them, after following them for five years in Europe before seeing an away win outside of Italy, I tend to get my enjoyment in early on these trips, but I do think that this group of players owe it to themselves to respond pretty significantly or they will be finishing their careers with the reputation as “big game bottlers” because once that reputation sticks it’s hard to shake off.
Anyway – here we go with some pictures from the weekend.