Sloppy Ulster cough up their perfect record
Their scrum was getting on top and there were one or two other little snapshots of positivity. Jackson added a third penalty 90 seconds after the re-start but a couple of mistakes allowed the Saints access to the home side’s 22 almost immediately.
Twice the Ulster line led a charmed existence with Phil Dowson being penalised for a double movement in trying to ground the ball over the line and then Ken Pisi knocking the ball on two metres out as he tried to gather a grubber kick. The home side conceded a free kick at the resulting scrum but defended stoutly as Northampton opted for a scrum.
Despite continuing to rack up the mistakes, Ulster came back strongly, Ruan Pienaar, was short with a long-range penalty from his own half and having moved to outhalf on the introduction of Paul Marshall, he put some width on Ulster’s game. It nearly paid immediate dividends when Bowe made a half break but his no look offload eight metres out was half-intercepted.
Ulster won the lineout but after being held up over the line they conceded a penalty on their own put-in following an impressive surge from the visiting eight. Craig Gilroy underlined his wonderful running skills after coming on for Andrew Trimble but Northampton buckled but there was no definitive breach.
The home side secured a turnover in their own 22 after soaking up more pressure and from the scrum, Paul Marshall made a searing break down the blindside, racing past Tom Wood’s despairing grasp. He timed his pass perfectly to Bowe on the halfway but the Irish winger was tap tackled from behind and landed horribly on his leg – possible a broken ankle or leg. He was taken off on a stretcher after a six minute delay.
The Saints were penalised at the ruck but Pienaar from 38 metres and close to the touchline saw his effort drift narrowly wide. It kind of summed up the night for the home side: close but not good enough.
Scoring sequence: 6 mins:Myler penalty, 0-3; 17:van Velze try, Myler conversion, 0-10; 29:Jackson penalty, 3-10; 37:Jackson penalty, 6-10. 41:Jackson penalty, 9-10.
ULSTER:J Payne; T Bowe, D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble; P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, I Henderson, D Tuohy, N Williams, C Henry (capt), R Wilson. Replacements:C Gilroy for Trimble 56 mins; P Marshall for Jackson 61 mins; C Black for Court 68 mins; L Marshall for Wallace 68 mins; R Diack for Williams 71 mins; N McComb for Bowe 77 mins; R Lutton for Tuohy 79 mins.
NORTHAMPTON:B Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, T May, J Elliott; S Myler, L Dickson; S Tonga'uiha, M Haywood, P Doran-Jones; S Manoa, C Clark; T Wood, P Dowson, G-Jan van Velze. Replacements:C Lawes for van Velze 25 mins; B Mujati for Doran Jones 53 mins; A Waller for Tonga'uiha 63 mins; M Sorenson for Clark 63 mins; R McMillan for Haywood 78 mins.
Referee: Nigel Owens(Wales).