Ulster miss chances in France
Stade clinch consolation win
Last Updated: 24/01/09 4:17pm
Gasnier: Late score
Ulster paid the price for missing early chances as they failed again to claim a first win on French soil as they lost 24-19 at Stade Francais.
There was little to play for barring pride and a place in the record books due to Harlequins having already qualified from the pool, and it took a rejuvenated second-half showing from the home side to liven up a match that looked like there was nothing riding on it.
Niall O'Connor missed two of his first three penalties, and Paul Marshall knocked on over the line - errors that could have put them 16-0 up after 15 minutes.
Instead, two kicks by Stade's Lionel Beauxis made it 6-3 in the hosts' favour until Paul Steinmetz collected a switch pass and broke for the line to make it 8-6 to the Ulstermen at half-time, full advantage being taken while Stade's Pierre Rabadan served a ten minute spell in the sin bin for persistent offending.
The conversion, though, again failed to make the grade.
The second half brought with it some more enterprising rugby as the battle for second place in the pool got going.
Clinton Schifcofske and Beauxis traded early penalties before the home side stamped their authority on the game.
As the smart play continued, the pressure built up until a try seemed inevitable - Juan Manuel Leguizamon finally touching down after a jinking run to the line, Beauxis adding the extras.
Schifcofske landed his second penalty eight minutes from time to draw Ulster to within three points but Mark Gasnier gathered up a chip over the top on the breakaway and sprinted towards the corner to put Stade beyond the point of no return.
Ulster's fighting spirit stayed with them until the end, and Nigel Brady will remember his smart try on the blind-side of a nicely worked line-out - but essentially it was just a consolatory effort.