Match Centre: Ulster 27-22 Northampton Saints

John Cooney kicked a penalty and a conversion for Ulster
John Cooney kicked a penalty and a conversion for Ulster
©Steve Haag

Ulster Rugby 27-22 Northampton Saints, Kingspan Stadium

Ulster successfully managed overcome a late try from Courtnall Skosan as they maintained their perfect start to the Heineken Champions Cup with a 27-22 victory at Kingspan Stadium.

The result meant Ulster now have two wins from as many games as they are second in the Pool A table with nine points while Northampton are at 10th after losing both their matches.

The Irish side got off to a flying start as Billy Burns sent Rob Herring through an gap as he dived from close range and John Cooney followed with the conversion to race to a 7-0 lead.

The response from Northampton came in the sixth minute as George Furbank slotted a penalty goal to reduce the arrears to four points.

The 15th minute saw Saints reduced to 14 players temporarily with Alex Mitchell sin-binned for a deliberate knock on that also resulted in a penalty try for Ulster with the scoreline becoming 14-3 before Furbank's second penalty goal in the 18th minute ensuring the gap between the sides came down to eight points.

The third try for Ulster came in the 19th minute as James Hume sent a chip kick allowing Ethan McIlroy to dot down but Cooney's conversion went wide as the scoreline became 19-6.

Furbank kept the Saints in the game with two more penalties in the 22nd and 29th minutes that reduced the arrears to seven points at the end of the opening half.

Ulster were the quickest to get off the block in the second half with Cooney kicking a three-pointer in the 45th minute after Saints were penalised for holding on in front of their own posts.

The bonus point for the home side came in the 57th minute as Billy Burns sent a cross-field kick to allow Craig Gilroy to score but Cooney's conversion went wide making it 27-12 which proved just enough despite the Saints scoring two tries in the final quarter through Mitchell and Skosan.

Team line up:

Ulster: Lowry; Gilroy, Hume, McCloskey, McIlroy; Burns, Cooney; Warwick, Herring, M Moore, O'Connor, Henderson, Marcus Rea, Timoney, Vermeulen.

Reserves: Andrew, McGrath, O'Toole, Treadwell, Carter, Jones, Doak, S Moore

Northampton Saints: Tuala; Sleightholme, Proctor, Dingwall, Skosan; Furbank, Mitchell; Waller, Haywood, Painter, Ribbans, Ratuniyawara, Lawes, Ludlam, Wood.

Reserves: Fish, Iyogun, Carey, Coles, Augustus, James, J Grayson, Hutchinson.


European Rugby Champions Cup Points Table