Home Rugby European Rugby Twitter Reacts As Ulster Score Massive Win Over La Rochelle At Kingspan Stadium

Twitter Reacts As Ulster Score Massive Win Over La Rochelle At Kingspan Stadium

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JANUARY 13: Jacob Stockdale of Ulster celebrates scoring his side's second try during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Ulster Rugby and La Rochelle at Kingspan Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ulster barged their way to the top of Pool 1 of the Champions Cup this afternoon in Belfast, overcoming French visitors and previous pool leaders La Rochelle 20 points to 13 with a titanic effort at the Kingspan Stadium.

It was captain Rory Best’s first win with his province in some 386 days and he played a central role in the outcome, opening Ulster’s account with a try after a shaky start for the side and entering an all-around performance that garnered ‘Man of the Match’ honours.

Best and his men were down 0-6 with a quarter of an hour played but stormed back after a yellow card sent Paul Jordaan to the sin-bin and reduced La Rochelle to 14 men on 22 minutes. Best crossed the line from the back of a maul at the half-hour mark and a wonderful finish from Jacob Stockdale out on the wing nine minutes later was enough to give Ulster the lead despite two errant conversion attempts from John Cooney.

The visitors retook the lead early in the second half with a converted try. Alexi Bales, who had knocked over La Rochelle’s two first-half scores, kicking the extra points after crossing the white-wash himself.

That lead was short-lived, however, as Ulster issued an immediate and deadly response. A mistake from Pierre Bourgarit was punished by Darren Cave and Nick Timoney, the latter dotting down to put the northern province in front once more. This time Cooney found the target with his follow-up kick. He did so once again from a penalty a few minutes later to give Ulster a seven-point cushion to which they would cling until the final whistle.

It was a massive win for Ulster, putting them a point ahead of La Rochelle atop the pool. This means that they will now head to Coventry to play Wasps on the 21st of the month as masters of their own destiny. Wasps play Harlequins later this evening at the Twickenham Stoop. They currently sit on 10 points, 7 behind Ulster, in third place.

Below is a sample of the reaction to the game, which includes some complaints about the yellow card shown by referee Wayne Barnes to Jordaan as well as some kind words for Christian Lealiifano who played his last home game for Ulster today…

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