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Pienaar steals the show as Ulster win

Not for the first time, Ruan Pienaar was the difference-maker, totalling 17 points in Ulster's 27-16 Heineken Cup win over Montpellier at Ravenhill last night.

The northern province remain the only unbeaten club in the competition as the Springbok scored one try, made another, and provided the get-out-of-jail card that was his right boot.

Initially, Montpellier had to have encouragement and they got it from their scrum-half Eric Esconde's penalty before he was short from distance and out-half Enzo Selponi pushed a drop-goal right in the 16th minute.

The home side needed something tangible. They got it when Paddy Jackson's expert cross-field kick was gathered and carried for a superb finish by flanker Robbie Diack, Pienaar converting in the 24th minute.

The scrum-half's clever chip over the top put left wing Luca Dupont into bother and Pienaar picked up the breaking ball for a second try in four minutes, the conversion taking Ulster out to a 14-3 lead.

Montpellier rebounded well for hooker Charles Geli to break away and for lock Robins Tchale-Watchou to grab a try, improved by Esconde's conversion.

From there, Pienaar and Esconde went blow-for-blow, sharing four penalties, to see Ulster hold a 20-16 lead by the 50th minute.

There was tension all around the ground until another Pienaar ball over the top was latched onto by the hard-charging John Afoa for a third converted try.