Ulster opened their Heineken Cup campaign with victory over Top 14 club Castres
Last Updated: 13/10/12 8:37am
Ulster began their Heineken Cup campaign with a bonus-point victory after beating Castres 41-17 at Ravenhill.
Paul Marshall scored twice and there was one try apiece for Andrew Trimble and Ruan Pienaar as last season's runners-up launched their 2013 bid in style.
The visitors opened the scoring through Romain Teulet's penalty, but Paddy Jackson's three-pointer levelled the scores with eight minutes played.
A minute later Ulster found the try line when Jared Payne, on his Heineken Cup debut, made a fine break down the left flank before picking out wing Trimble who dived over in the corner.
Jackson's conversion made it 10-3 to Ulster, which then became a ten-point margin when the 20-year-old slotted home another penalty.
Things went from bad to worse with 22 minutes played when a poor turnover from Castres was seized up by Marshall, who chipped through the line to touch down near the post unchallenged, Jackson converting.
The game looked like getting away from the Top 14 side, but a moment of magic gave them hope - Pierre Bernard's pin-point kick picked out Marc Andreu who coasted over the try line.
And Teulet's conversion brought the visitors to within ten points only for Jackson to add another penalty.
The home started the second half on the front foot and Marshall added his second try of the game from close range with a darting run, a try that was given following a review from the video referee.
Anything Marshall could do wing Marcel Garvey could replicate. The former Worcester man darted over from close range, again on the nod of the video referee. Teulet's conversion cut Ulster's lead to 31-17 only for Jackson to respond in kind.
Castres finished the match a man light as Yannick Forestier was shown a yellow card with five minutes left and Ulster made them pay with the crucial fourth try of the game thanks to Pienaar's long-range effort.
Ulster were dominant throughout the first-half and could have taken a greater advantage into the half-time break.
Mark Anscombe's side played the more expansive attacking rugby through-out and were rewarded with tries inside the opening 40 minutes from Trimble and Marshall.
Andreu's try against the run of play for Castres maintained hopes of a comeback, but Marshall was influential throughout and fully deserved his second try of the contest.
The home fans feared the worst when Court was ordered from the field of play for 10 minutes, but the home side stayed strong and Pienaar's score as time expired to secure what seemed an unlikely bonus-point success.