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Saturday, January 30, 1999 Published at 19:23 GMT

Ulster crowned Euro champs

Ulster captain David Humphreys lifts the European Cup

Ulster 21-6 Colomiers

Irish rugby experienced one of its greatest ever days, as Ulster claimed a fairytale victory over French side Colomiers in the Eurpean Cup final in Dublin.

BBC Ireland correspondent Tom Coulter: "Ulster fans invaded Dublin determined to enjoy themselves, whatever the score"
Trusty double act of David Humphreys and Simon Mason, who scored 18 points, did the damage, kicking their unfancied side to glory in front of a capacity Lansdowne Road crowd.

Some 30,000 fans had travelled over the border from Northern Ireland to attend a showpiece match that had captured the imagination of the whole island.

Alistair Hignall: "This was a fairy tale come true" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
And they were rewarded with a triumphant occasion as Ulster followed their victories over Toulouse and Stade Francais by claiming their third French scalp in a row.

The match was never going to be a classic of open rugby - at least, not if Ulster could help it.

[ image: Mason slots home his sixth penalty for Ulster]
Mason slots home his sixth penalty for Ulster
But with skipper Humphreys dictating matters with an assured display at fly-half and full-back Mason continuing his wonderful form with the boot, Colomiers simply had no answer to Ulster's determined gameplan.

Mason, the leading scorer in this season's competition, produced his best metronomic efforts to convert all six penalties presented to him, as Colomiers' indiscipline got the better of them.

Try as they might Colomiers, the in-form team in France and led by 64-time international Jean-Luc Sadourny, were unable to break through the Ulster ranks as fierce defence from the likes of centre Jonathan Bell consistently kept them at bay.

Early errors put Ulster on top

In a patchy first half characterised by some nervy play, neither side was able to stamp their authority on the proceedings - but Ulster made the mosts of the chances that came their way.

The magic moment
Colmiers fly-half Laurent Labit opened the scoring in the fifth minute, slotting home a 30-yard penalty from in front of the posts after the referee blew for offside.

But Ulster hit straight back and two penalties in the space of four minutes took them into the lead.

[ image: Humphreys is tackled by Galthie and opposite number Labit]
Humphreys is tackled by Galthie and opposite number Labit
First Colomiers strayed offside following a chip over the top from Humphries and Mason sent a perfectly judged kick sailing through from wide on the left.

Then in the twelfth minute Ulster's pack won a scrum against the head and Colomiers, forced onto the back foot, again drifted offside, presenting Mason with a straightforward penalty chance, which he duly took to make it 6-3.

On the half-hour Mason made it three out of three, with a superb penalty struck from the right-hand touchline.

And three minutes from half-time Colomiers again transgressed, allowing Mason to kick his 138th point of the season from in front of the posts to make it 12-3 at the break.

Drop-goal keeps pressure on

Colomiers needed to burst out of the blocks after the restart, but instead Ulster stretched their lead almost immediately. With just a minute of the second half gone, No.8 Tony McWhirter committed the French midfield with a surging run and the ball was recycled for Humphreys, who hit a drop-goal from just outside the 22.

[ image: Tony McWhirter charges into the Colomiers ranks]
Tony McWhirter charges into the Colomiers ranks
By now there was much more fluency about Ulster's attacks as they began to pin Colomiers in their own territory. In the 51st minute Mason's fifth penalty made it 18-3 - to leave the French side needing to score three times to win.

But Jeromes Sieurac, a second-half replacement for Labit, reduced the deficit to 12 points with a 58th minute penalty.

Six minutes later Mason virtually secured the win with another terrific penalty, this time just ten yards in from the left-hand touchline, which re-established the 15-point advantage.

Colomiers dominated the closing exchanges, but Ulster's defence held firm and they never looked like surrendering their big lead.

And the final whistle produced wild scenes as Humphreys' team were engulfed by thousands of jubilant Irish fans.


Ulster: Mason, Coulter, J Cunningham, J Bell, Park, Humphreys, Matchett, Fitzpatrick, Clarke, Irwin, Blair, Longwell, McKinty, Ward, McWhirter.

Replacements: McDowell, B Cunningham, S Bell, Topping, Duncan, Leslie, Weir.

Colomiers: Sadourny, Biboulet, Roque, Sieurac, Lhande, Labit, Galthie, Delpuech, Dal Maso, Graou, Moro, Lorenzi, de Giusti, Tabacco, Peysson.

Replacements: Milhas, Skrela, Carre, Pueyo, Magendie, Tremoulet, Nones.

Referee: C Thomas (Wales)

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