European Champions Cup Pool 5: Ulster 22-26 Bordeaux-Begles
|European Champions Cup Pool Five|
|Ulster (15) 22|
|Tries: Trimble, van der Merwe, Cave Cons: Jackson 2 Pen: Jackson|
|Bordeaux-Begles (20) 26|
|Tries: Lesgourgues, Tauleigne Cons: Madigan 2 Pens: Madigan 2, Hickey 2|
Ulster finished last in Pool 5 of the European Champions Cup as this narrow defeat by Bordeaux in Belfast completed a disappointing campaign.
Bordeaux led 20-15 at half-time with Yann Lesgourgues and Marco Tauleigne tries while Andrew Trimble and Franco van der Merwe went over for Ulster.
Darren Cave's converted try put Ulster ahead before two Simon Hickey penalties clinched victory for the visitors.
The win was not enough to see Bordeaux progress to the last eight.
Ulster's hopes of progress ended in last weekend's defeat by Exeter while Bordeaux needed a convincing bonus-point victory to stay in the mix to make the quarter-finals.
Bordeaux on front foot
The French side started strongly in the Belfast sunshine and an Ian Madigan penalty was followed by Lesgourgues' converted try, with the scrum-half dispossessing David Shanahan and sprinting over.
Ulster hit back as Trimble went in at the corner but the momentum quickly swung back to Bordeaux in a pulsating but error-strewn first half.
Against the head Bordeaux pushed Ulster back over their line in a powerful scrum and Tauleigne touched down - Madigan again added the extras.
Ulster's forwards showed their strength at the other end with a line-out maul ending with a van der Merwe try and Paddy Jackson conversion.
Madigan fired over a penalty before Geoffrey Cros was yellow-carded for failing to release as Jackson charged towards the line - the Ulster fly-half converted the resulting penalty with the last kick of the half.
Ulster lead doesn't last long
The hosts made the running on the restart although Jackson saw his penalty slide wide.
Ulster's pressure was rewarded when Cave barged through and made contact with the base of a post for the try, which Jackson converted.
It was the first time Ulster held the lead but it didn't last long with Bordeaux replacement Simon Hickey slotting over two penalties to make it 26-22.
Bordeaux resisted late Ulster pressure to secure the win but it was not enough to keep them in the competition as they finished second in Pool 5.
Ulster ended bottom with just two wins from six games in a frustrating campaign for the 1999 champions.
Ulster: Piutau, Bowe, Cave, McCloskey, Trimble, P. Jackson, Shanahan, Warwick, R. Best, Simpson, Diack, van der Merwe, Henderson, Henry, Reidy.
Replacements: Gilroy for Bowe (63), P. Marshall for Shanahan (41), Black for Warwick (70), Treadwell for Diack (46), C. Ross for van der Merwe (54). Not Used: Andrew, Lutton, Herron.
Bordeaux-Begles: Cros, Ducuing, Dubie, Vakacegu, Connor, Madigan, Lesgourgues, S. Kitshoff, Maynadier, Clerc, Palmer, Botha, Madaule, Goujon, Tauleigne.
Replacements: Rey for Vakacegu (59), Hickey for Madigan (59), Audy for Lesgourgues (51), Auzqui for Maynadier (60), Cobilas for Clerc (54), Chalmers for Tauleigne (69). Not Used: Taofifenua, Edwards.
Sin Bin: Cros (40).
Ref: Matthew Carley (RFU).