Ulster bow out of Europe tamely with heavy defeat to Wasps
Ulster's European dream came to a shuddering halt as they were dismantled by Wasps at the Ricoh Arena, the hosts picking up a bonus point in a dominant 26-7 win.
Les Kiss’ men came into the game knowing a win would put them into the quarter-finals, but that never looked likely as the visitors were second best in all aspects of the game, slipping third in the pool standings.
There were concerns prior to the match that it might be called off due to snow in Coventry, but the game went ahead and by the end Ulster would have wished it didn’t.
The quagmire of a pitch lent itself to a forward-oriented game, and that’s how Wasps got their first try after 12 minutes, openside flanker Guy Thompson steering a maul over the line and getting the touchdown.
The hosts were spurning several chances in the wet conditions, though, full back Willie le Roux and rampaging number eight Nizaam Carr both guilty of dropping the ball with overlaps.
From nothing, Ulster got a score of their own just after the midway point in the half, Louis Ludik stealing in on a loose pass from Christian Wade and setting away Darren Cave, with the centre releasing Sean Reidy to take it the rest of the way.
But the English side would lead at the break as they grabbed a second score, le Roux dinking a kick in behind and hooker Tom Cruse racing onto it in the corner to slide in just in time for the converted try,
Six minutes into the second half and Wasps had their third, turning Nick Timoney over on his own line, and the dangerous Le Roux had the pace out wide to burn past Johnny McPhillips and score in the corner.
The fourth, and bonus point score, followed soon after, prop Jake Cooper-Woolley taking the ball at the five metre line and riding a tackle to stretch out and slam the ball across the whitewash.
Ulster did try in vain to find a consolation score to take home to Belfast, but in reality Wasps were more likely to add a fifth try instead, however they couldn’t get across the line again for a try that would have more accurately reflected the gulf between the two teams.
WASPS: (15-9) Willie le Roux, Christian Wade, Juan de Jongh, Kyle Eastmond (Brendan Macken 67), Marcus Watson, Danny Cipriani, Dan Robson (Joe Simpson 62); (1-8) Simon McIntyre (Ben Harris 62), Tom Cruse (Ashley Johnson 63), Jake Cooper-Woolley (Marty Moore 62), Joe Launchbury, James Gaskell (Kearnan Myall 55), Jack Willis (Thomas Young 55), Guy Thompson, Nizaam Carr.
Sub not used: Rob Miller.
ULSTER: (15-9) Charles Piutau, Louis Ludik (Johnny McPhillips 33), Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale (Rob Lyttle 17), Christian Leali’ifano (Dave Shanahan 73), John Cooney; (1-8) Kyle McCall (Andy Warwick 55), Rory Best (Rob Herring 58), Rodney Ah You (Wiehahn Herbst 51), Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell (Matty Rea 58), Iain Henderson, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney (Chris Henry 66).
Man of the Match: Tom Cruse (Wasps)
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)