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Stockdale boosts Ulster's Euro hopes

Ulster 26 Racing 92 22

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Winger Jacob Stockdale on his way to scoring Ulster’s third try against Racing. Photo: Oliver McVeigh. Photo: Sportsfile

Winger Jacob Stockdale on his way to scoring Ulster’s third try against Racing. Photo: Oliver McVeigh. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Winger Jacob Stockdale on his way to scoring Ulster’s third try against Racing. Photo: Oliver McVeigh. Photo: Sportsfile

Jacob Stockdale shone again for Ulster as he scored two tries in their pulsating European Champions Cup win over Racing 92 at Kingspan Stadium.

The Ireland winger scored tries in either half - his second a memorable solo effort - and has scored in every European round so far, with Ulster's other try coming from debutant winger Robert Baloucoune.

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'Ulster have not been in the quarter-final for five years but their win over Racing - beaten finalists last season - gives them a good chance of a runners-up spot going to Leicester Tigers on Saturday. Yet again Jacob Stockdale was the hero, wading in with two tries.' Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

'Ulster have not been in the quarter-final for five years but their win over Racing - beaten finalists last season - gives them a good chance of a runners-up spot going to Leicester Tigers on Saturday. Yet again Jacob Stockdale was the hero, wading in with two tries.' Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

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The win puts Ulster just two points behind leaders Racing in Pool Four - the French side having come away with two bonus points - with just one more round of games to go, which puts Dan McFarland's side in a strong position to potentially qualify for the quarter-finals.

Racing scored four tries through Virimi Vakatawa, Simon Zebo, Brice Dulin and Olivier Klemenczak and came back after trailing 23-10 early in the second half, though Finn Russell missed three conversions.

With less than a minute on the clock, Burns had Ulster 3-0 ahead after the French were pinged at an early breakdown. Looking sharp from the off, they scored next when working Baloucoune over in the right corner from a sweeping back move after Kieran Treadwell secured a lineout in Racing's 22.

Burns missed the conversion and then, shortly after Marcell Coetzee won a penalty at the breakdown when Racing came trundling up to Ulster's line, the hosts had their second try. It again came off a lineout and, with Ulster switching the play, Stuart McCloskey linked with Will Addison who put Stockdale in space.

The Ireland winger brushed off Antonie Claassen and raced away to the line. Burns, however, was again wide from a difficult angle but Ulster were 13-0 up in as many minutes.

Racing hit back after stealing an Ulster lineout in the home side's 22, with centre Vakatawa smashing through some tired tackles to touch down. Russell failed with the conversion but the Parisians were now back in the game.

Stockdale then lost his footing when all he had to do was dive on an Addison cross-kick which rolled over the Racing try line, but Ulster were already on a penalty advantage which saw Addison - Burns was receiving attention - land the kick.

Racing had to score next and did when Zebo dived in at the right corner following another series of rumbles from the visitors' pack. However, Russell again failed to convert and the half ended with Ulster leading 16-10.

Seven minutes in and with Zebo off injured, Stockdale scored his astonishing solo try. Getting the ball on his wing, he rounded Klemenczak and chipped the ball forward. Racing had three defenders in situ but the bounce eluded them all and Stockdale had his second try. Addison's conversion made it 23-10.

Racing struck next when fullback Dulin scooted over from an overlap and with a penalty advantage but, yet again, Russell missed the extras.

Three minutes after the hour, the visitors had their bonus-point try when substitute Klemenczak scrambled over the line, Teddy Iribaren converting to cut Ulster's lead to just one point.

Racing came again - Juan Imhoff having his 75th-minute try ruled out for a forward pass - but the home side somehow relieved the siege and Addison's last-minute penalty helped run the clock down to a memorable win.

Scorers - Ulster: Stockdale 2 tries, Baloucoune try; Addison 2 pens, con, Burns pen. Racing 92: Iribaren try, con, Vakatawa, Zebo, Dulin try each.

Ulster: L Ludik; R Baloucoune, W Addison, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns (M Lowry 64), J Cooney; E O'Sullivan (A Warwick 64), R Best capt (R Herring 64), M Moore (R Kane 64); A O'Connor (I Nagle 64), K Treadwell; S Reidy, J Murphy, M Coetzee.

Racing 92: B Dulin; S Zebo (O Klemenczak h-t), V Vakatawa, H Chavancy, J Imhoff; F Russell (B Volavola 64), M Machenaud (T Ibaren 62 (Machenaud 80)); G Gogichashvili (V Kakovin 63), D Szarzewski capt (T Baubigny 70), B Tameifuna (G Henri Colombe 55), B Le Roux, L Nakarawa, W Lauret (F Sanconnie 71), B Chouzenoux (B Palu 64), A Claassen.

Referee: M Carley (Eng) (Replaced, h-t, by A Jackson)

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