Lucky 13 as Ulster win again
Ulster won their 13th game in 13 outings this season when they clinched an impressive 25-6 triumph over Northampton on Friday.
Ulster won their 13th game in 13 outings this season when they clinched an impressive 25-6 bonus-point triumph over Northampton on Friday to stay on course for the European Cup quarterfinals.
Ulster scored four tries to stay top of Pool Four, with three wins out of three, while Northampton slipped to third place behind Castres who beat Glasgow 9-6.
"That was a bit of a statement," said Ulster coach Mark Anscombe.
"We weren't even thinking about the bonus point. We were more than happy to come and take the win.
"But we are not getting carried away. Northampton have too many quality players and they will bounce back from this performance."
In the day's other match, Connacht celebrated their first win over French opposition with a 22-14 victory against Biarritz in Pool Three.
Ulster, the 1999 champions and runners-up to Leinster last season, opened the scoring at Franklin's Gardens after 10 minutes through wing Andrew Trimble.
Paddy Jackson released his teammate with a clever, delayed chip ahead which fell perfectly for Trimble to beat Northampton fullback Ben Foden to the ball and touch down for his 20th European Cup try in his 49th match.
Jackson missed the conversion before opposing flyhalf Ryan Lamb fluffed his second penalty of the match.
Jackson then went wide with a penalty from just inside the Saints' half before Lamb finally found his length and direction with a long-range penalty to make the score 5-3 to the Irish side.
Ulster won a penalty straight from the restart for a line-out infringement and this time Jackson hit the target to put his team 8-3 to the good.
Lamb's poor match continued when he missed a third penalty just before the half-hour mark when veteran centre Paddy Wallace was punished for a dangerous tackle on Northampton wing Ken Pisi.
Ulster scored their second try in the 33rd minute through wing Tommy Bowe.
The move was created by New Zealand fullback Jared Payne's pinpoint kick ahead which rocked Northampton back on their heels.
Ulster created the over-lap with Wallace putting Bowe in space for his 23rd European Cup try as the visitors went 13-3 ahead although Jackson again missed the conversion.
Lamb at least kept the Saints in touch with a 20-metre penalty as Ulster went in at half-time with a 13-6 lead.
That advantage quickly became 18-6 early in the second period when Payne grabbed Ulster's third try, collecting Trimble's pass before nipping inside the Northampton defence with a smart dummy to score.
Jackson added the extras for 20-6 but then went short with an optimistic long-range penalty shot.
Northampton piled on the pressure in the closing stages but were unable to breach a resolute Ulster defence with the visitors even surviving having flanker Ian Henderson sin-binned for not releasing a tackled player on the ground.
Lock Dan Tuohy added the bonus-point try in the last minute for 25-6 with Jackson's conversion out wide missing the target.
In the day's other Pool Four match, Castres beat Glasgow 9-6 with South Africa's Rory Kockott kicking the three penalties for the French side.
In Pool Three, Connacht celebrated their first European Cup win over French opponents with a 22-14 victory against two-time runners-up Biarritz.
Tonga wing Fetu'u Vainikolo scored the home team's only try after just five minutes with Dan Parks kicking 17 points.
We bring you all Friday's scores and scorers!
Glasgow Warriors 6-9 Castres Olympique
For Glasgow Warriors:
Pens: Wight 2
For Castres Olympique:
Pens: Kockott 3
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Stuart Hogg, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH Van Der Merwe, 10 Scott Wight, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 John Barclay, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Alastair Kellock (captain), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Michael Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Nikola Matawalu, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Maitland.
Castres Olympique: 15 Romain Martial, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Seremaia Bai, 12 Remy Lamerat, 11 Max Evans, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Antonie Claassen, 7 Jannie Bornman, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Christophe Samson, 4 Matthias Rolland (captain), 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Mathieu Bonello, 1 Yannick Forestier.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Hai Lazar, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Yannick Caballero, 21 Thomas Sanchou, 22 Paul Bonnefond, 23 Daniel Kirkpatrick.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Darren Gamage (England), Paul Dix (England)
Connacht 22-14 Biarritz Olympique
Pens: Parks 3
DGs: Parks 2
For Biarritz Olympique:
Pens: Yachvili 3
Yellow cards: Eoin McKeon (Connacht, 36), Tiernan O'Halloran (Connacht, 80)
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 David McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks (captain), 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Kearney, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Dennis Buckley, 18 James Cooney, 19 Daniel Qualter, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Matthew Jarvis.
Biarritz Olympique: 15 Iain Balshaw, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Charles Gimenez, 12 Marcelo Bosch, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Mathew Berquist, 9 Dimitri Yachvili (captain), 8 Raphael Lakafia, 7 Benoit Guyot, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Thibault Dubarry, 4 Erik Lund, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Benoit August, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Philippe Genevois, 17 Thomas Synaeghel, 18 Wicus Blaauw, 19 Pelu Taele, 20 Imanol Harinordoquy, 21 Yann Lesgourgues, 22 Jean Pascal Barraque, 23 Seremaia Burotu.
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Paul Burton (England)
TMO: Trevor Fisher (England)
Northampton Saints 6-25 Ulster
For Northampton Saints:
Pens: Lamb 2
Tries: Trimble, Bowe, Payne, Tuohy
Yellow card: Iain Henderson (Ulster, 71)
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dominic Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Tom May.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Nick Williams Nanai, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Craig Gilroy.
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Patrick Pechambert (France), Sebastian Cloute (France)
TMO: Laurent Valin (France)