Bordeaux down Ulster
EUROPEAN CUP MATCH REPORT: Bordeaux Begles piled more misery on Ulster with a 22-26 victory in their European Champions Cup encounter at Kingspan Stadium.
Two late penalties from replacement Simon Hickey did the business for the French side as they ended the pool stages on a high and left Ulster contemplating back-to-back defeats.
Bordeaux were outscored three tries to two, but still came out on top, as the boot of Ian Madigan and Hickey's late salvo off the bench saw them come out on top.
With the two teams unable to make the quarterfinals, both decided to go hell for leather from the off and the result was an entertaining encounter.
The first half hour saw two tries apiece, the away side the ones to open the scoring. Scrum-half Yann Lesgourgues crossed for Bordeaux's first, Irish fly-half Madigan converting on his return to home soil.
Ulster were disappointing in defeat to Exeter in their last encounter and their concession of an early try spurred them into life. Andrew Trimble hit back in the 19th minute, Paddy Jackson adding the extras to level the scores, but that didn't stop the rate of scoring.
Within five minutes Cardiff Blues-bound lock Franco van der Merwe and Bordeaux No 8 Marco Tauleigne had exchanged scores with Madigan succeeding with his conversion where international team-mate Jackson could not.
Madigan had earlier booted penalties in both the second and 32nd minute but after Bordeaux fullback Geoffrey Cros was yellow carded on the verge of half-time for slowing down the ball with Ulster pushing for the line, Jackson kicked another goal to narrow his team's interval deficit to five points.
With a man advantage at the start of the second period, Ulster had designs on getting back into things but a raft of changes hit their momentum.
David Shanahan and Robbie Diack were among those to leave the field, and the substitutions played a big part in a scoreless first 19 minutes after the break.
But just before the hour mark, Ulster secured a vital score as outside centre Darren Cave crashed over.
Jackson converted to put the Irishmen ahead going into the final quarter and at that stage everything pointed to a home win in the last round of pool matches.
Ulster, though, have been struggling of late and they failed to close out the game once again.
In the final 10 minutes they coughed up two penalties which Hickey converted to give the visitors the win.
Tries: Trimble, Van der Merwe, Cave
Cons: Jackson 2
Tries: Lesgourgues, Tauleigne
Cons: Madigan 2
Pens: Madigan 2, Hickey 2
Yellow card: Geoffrey Cros (Bordeaux-Bègles, 40 - cynical foul, not releasing the tackled player close to his line)
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Andrew Trimble (captain), 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Sean Reidy, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Jonny Simpson, 2 Rory Best, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Craig Gilroy.
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Geoffrey Cros, 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Jean-Baptiste Dubié, 12 Joe Wakacegu, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Loann Goujon, 6 Louis Madaule, 5 Berend Botha, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Marc Clerc, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Benat Auzqui, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Joe Edwards, 20 Hugh Chalmers, 21 Julien Audy, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Julien Rey.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Gareth Copsey (England)
TMO: Geoff Warren (England)