Match Report: Union Bordeaux-Begles 28-13 Ulster Rugby

Sean Reidy

Sean Reidy’s yellow card ended any hopes of an Ulster comeback

A late surge of tries from Bordeaux condemned Ulster to an opening defeat in their Champions Cup campaign as they lost 28-13 in the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

The Ulster defence had held out admirably for most of the second half, but after Sebastien Taofifenua crossed with eight minutes to go, it spelled the end for Ulster.

Coming into the game it had been billed as a battle between the two Irish fly-halves: Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson.

The early stages of the game belonged to Madigan and Bordeaux. The Dublin man landed a penalty in the third minute to give his side the lead and, but for some desperate Ulster defence, they could have lead by more.

Bordeaux’s wastefulness finally caught up to them when Ulster, off the back of their dominant scrum, hit them with a well-timed strike move which saw Ruan Pienaar set the returning Trimble over for the score.

Jackson added the extras, but he could have really taken all the headlines when Trimble again burst down the wing and passed inside to the fly-half only for Jackson to juggle the ball in the tackle and eventually drop it with the line gaping.

Having seen one certain try go begging, Ulster then saw another one pass them by as they piled towards the line, but the crucial surge from Andy Warwick resulted in the prop spilling the ball forward.

Instead they had to settle for Jackson’s first penalty of the game two minutes before the break, but that was immediately cancelled out by Madigan’s second kick of the game minutes after the restart.

The battle of the two Irish fly-halves ended as Madigan was replaced by Lionel Beauxis, but within two minutes of coming on the veteran Frenchman had his first points through Bordeaux’s third penalty.

With the home side’s tails up, it took an outstanding steal from Iain Henderson from a Bordeaux maul to prevent a certain try, and from the resulting clearance, Ulster won the penalty which Jackson hammered over from inside his own half.

But after that it was Ulster who were under the cosh for the rest of the game, and that they kept their hosts to only the three tries is a credit to how good their defence actually was.

After holding out for so long, it was eventually substitute loosehead Sebastien Taofifenua who got over, squeezing over in the tightest of gaps under the tackle of Ruan Pienaar to dot down.

Only a minute later they were in again – straight off the restart substitute winger Metuisela Talebula burst through and offloaded to Baptiste Serin. The scrum-half didn’t get the ball down, but in the process of tackling him, Sean Reidy went high, and referee Doyle went under the sticks.

The penalty try ended any hopes of an Ulster win, but when Paul Marshall quick tapped a penalty in the Bordeaux 22, the ball was scooped up by Blair Connor who raced home for the third try, and ended any chance of Ulster leaving with anything.

The scorers

For Bordeaux
Tries: Taofifenua, Penalty, Connor
Cons: Beauxis (2)
Pens: Madigan (2), Beauxis

For Ulster
Try: Trimble
Con: Jackson
Pens: Jackson (2)

(15-9) Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Adam Ashley Cooper (Metuisela Talebula 72), Jean-Baptiste Dubie, Romain Lonca, Blair Connor, Ian Madigan (Lionel Beauxis 50), Yann Lesgourgues (Baptiste Serin 50); (1-8) Jefferson Poirot (Sebastien Taofifenua 57), Clément Maynadier (Ole Avei 49), Vadim Cobilas (Marc Clerc 57), Jandre Marais, Cyril Cazeaux (Thomas Palmer 72), Luke Jones, Hugh Chalmers, Loann Goujon (Marco Tauleigne 59).

(15-9) Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy (Rob Lyttle 75), Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 72); (1-8) Andy Warwick (Kyle McCall 59), Rory Best, Rodney Ah You (Ross Kane 47), Alan O’Connor (Pete Browne 52), Franco van der Merwe (Rob Herring 72), Iain Henderson, Clive Ross (Roger Wilson 59), Sean Reidy.

Sub not used: Jacob Stockdale.
Yellow card: Sean Reidy (74′)

Man of the Match: Jean-Marcellin Buttin (Bordeaux)
Attendance: 21,132
Referee: J.P. Doyle (England)