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Ulster Lose in Loftus Road

Ulster Lose in Loftus Road

Ulster’s hopes of a place in the quarter-finals suffered a severe setback when they were beaten 36-32 by London Wasps after a thrilling finish at Loftus Road.

Ulster’s hopes of a place in the quarter-finals suffered a severe setback when they were beaten 36-32 by London Wasps after a thrilling finish at Loftus Road. Ulster trailed by 14 points at half time and then went even further behind soon after the restart when they gifted Wasps a third try. Then they produced their now traditional comeback that almost brought them victory.

It began with a try from the lion-hearted Andy Ward who kicked ahead after Tyrone Howe had forced the Wasps full back to lose possession. Ward won the race after his own kick and gathered to score wide on the left. Paddy Wallace knocked over a superb conversion and Ulster were right back in the game.

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Ward was involved again in the 63rd minute when, after Jonathan Bell had made the initial cut, he delivered the scoring pass to substitute Ryan Constable who ran in to leave Wallace with a simple conversion.

New Zealand lock Ian Jones was sin-binned and Wallace dropped a neat goal to leave Ulster trailing by just a single point with nine minutes to go. They threw everything at Wasps in those final frantic minutes, their attempts not helped by Italian referee who – among other things – awarded a questionable penalty which King converted to put his side four points ahead, a lead they held in the face of fierce Ulster pressure.

Ulster will be bitterly disappointed. They showed enough quality in the final quarter to suggest that they would be worthy quarter finalists. But in many ways they were the architects of their own downfall. The injury to Humphreys certianly didn’t help but despite that loss they still could have won.They led 6-3 after fifteen minutes abut then let Wasps in for their opening try a minute later when Mark Denny evaded three attempted tackles to score under the posts. Paddy Wallace took over the kicking duties after Humphreys hurt an ankle and the young full back landed his first successful kick to leave just one point separating the sides. Then however, after King had landed a second penalty, Wallace missed with an effort front virtually in front of the posts. That miss was made look all the more crucial when King struck again in the 31st minute and just two minutes later, Humphreys dropped a pass – he seemed to have been unsighted by the referee – Wasps hacked down fielded and Roisier scored under the posts despite the bests efforts of Tyrone Howe.

Wallace and King traded penalties to leave Ulster trailing 26-12 at the break and desperately needing a good start to the second half.

Unfortunately for Ulster it was Wasps who opened the scoring and again through an Ulster error. Wallace now operating at out-half in the absence of Humphreys, threw a long pass that Fraser Waters intercepted and he scorched away for the try that looked to have sealed Ulster’s fate.

But then they showed the commitment and courage that has become their trademark. That bravery didn’t get it’s reward and now they must rely on other results if they are to get into the play-offs.