Match Report: Ulster Rugby 56-3 US Oyonnax

Nick Williams

Nick Williams was man of the match as Ulster hammered Oyonnax

Ulster did all they could to boost their chances of making the quarter-finals of the Champions’ Cup as they ran in eight tries in a 56-3 rout of French side Oyonnax at the Kingspan Stadium.

Rob Herring, Darren Cave, Rory Scholes and Sean Reidy all ran in tries as Ulster wrapped up the bonus point before the half-time break while Rory Clegg responded with a penalty, Oyonnax’s only score of the game.

After the break it was much of the same for Ulster with Craig Gilroy, Robbie Diack, Ian Humphreys and Jared Payne all notching scores while Paddy Jackson and Ian Humphreys between them were flawless off the tee with their conversions.

The bonus point success gives Ulster a slim chance of making the last eight in Europe, however despite picking up the extra point they are still reliant on other results going their way to make it.

Ulster’s quest for the four tries got off to the perfect start after just two minutes when captain Rob Herring burrowed his way over from close range for the opening try after a quick Paul Marshall tap penalty brought the Ulstermen within inches of the line.

The hosts then suffered a blow as impressive young loosehead prop Kyle McCall was brought off injured after just five minutes before Clegg got Oyonnax’s first points of the game with a 10th minute penalty.

But Les Kiss’ men always looked more threatening and they got their second try in the 17th minute through a beautiful strike move as Herring once again was involved, setting full-back Jared Payne through a gap in the defence who was in turn able to put the returning Darren Cave in to score.

Surprisingly Oyonnax were still going for the posts instead of mirroring Ulster and trying to make a game out of it, however Clegg missed a straightforward penalty and Payne was to make him pay for that.

It was the full-back who set up Ulster’s third try ten minutes later – his break down the wing opened up the space and the ball was moved back inside for replacement winger Rory Scholes to score with his second touch of the ball.

And it was little more than a formality for the Ulstermen to notch the crucial bonus point try just before the break as scrum-half Paul Marshall delayed a pass beautifully before setting over openside Sean Reidy from close range.

Not content with just the four scores, Ulster continued to press in the second half for more tries that would improve their points difference and further enhance their quarter-final hopes and they got their fifth seven minutes into the second period.

Although Oyonnax full-back Florian Denos was able to block a certain try scoring pass into touch, Ulster took the lineout quickly and when the ball was recycled it was the simple matter of hands to send winger Craig Gilroy over in the corner.

It only took them another seven minutes to notch their sixth as Reidy made an impressive break up the touchline and when he was hauled down just short of the line Robbie Diack was there to pick the ball up and dot down.

Almost as soon as Oyonnax had kicked off they were back under their posts once more – Paul Marshall’s pinpoint pass setting replacement fly half Ian Humphreys through the gap and under the sticks for the seventh try.

Having played a major part in two of Ulster’s tries already it was time for Jared Payne to get in on the scoring act as he was the one who benefitted from Darren Cave’s inside pass after the centre had made the break through the middle.

Oyonnax, to their credit, kept plugging away until the end and they nearly had a try when the rampaging Horatiu Pungea plunged over the line only to spill the ball as he did so.

In the end it summed up their afternoon and, although they couldn’t get another try late on, Ulster will be delighted with their eight-try success that gives them at least a fighting chance of making the last eight.

 

The scorers

For Ulster

Tries: Herring, Cave, Scholes, Reidy, Gilroy, Diack, Humphreys, Payne

Cons: Jackson (5), Humphreys (3)

For Oyonnax

Pen: Clegg

 

ULSTER RUGBY

(15-9) Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble (Rory Scholes 26-36), Darren Cave (Rory Scholes 61), Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson (Ian Humphreys 51), Paul Marshall (David Shanahan 67); (1-8) Kyle McCall (Callum Black 5), Rob Herring (Rory Best 73), Ricky Lutton (Bronson Ross 67), Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe (Roger Wilson 51), Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Nick Williams (Clive Ross 59).

US OYONNAX

(15-9) Florian Denos, Daniel Ikpefan, Guillaume Bousses, Alaska Taufa (Eamonn Sheridan 55), Dug Codjo, Rory Clegg (Regis Lespinas 55), Julien Blanc; (1-8) Soane Tonga’uiha (Laurent Delboulbes 66), Thomas Bordes (Jeremie Maurouard 51), Giorgi Vepkhvadze (Horatiu Pungea 40), Leon Power (Fabrice Metz 51), Geoffrey Fabbri, Valentin Ursache (Maurie Fa’asavalu 66), Pierrick Gunther, Pedrie Wannenburg.

Sub not used: Fabien Cibray.

 

Man of the Match: Nick Williams (Ulster)

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Ita)