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 Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 16:32 GMT
Ulster edge past Cardiff
Ulster centre Shane Stewart in action against Nick Robinson
Shane Stewart brings down Cardiff's Nicky Robinson
Heineken Cup, Pool 6:
Cardiff 21-33 Ulster



Ulster kept their slim Heineken Cup hopes alive but were made to work hard for victory against a gritty Cardiff side at the Arms Park.

The former European kingpins also added to their meagre ration of tries with flanker Neil McMillan scoring two of their three tries.

They ran the show in the first half, but they appeared to turn off the boilers on the restart.

Leading 24-12, they allowed Cardiff to slowly and surely claw their way back into contention.

Match details:
Cardiff 21 (12)
Tries: Walne, Allen
Pen: Robinson 3
Con: Robinson
Ulster 33 (24)
Tries: McMillan 2,
Pens: Humphreys 2
Cons: Humphreys 3
DG: Cunningham

The Welshmen were under the cosh from the opening exchanges with Ulster fly-half David Humphreys kicking one penalty and converting McMillen's first try.

Cardiff did manage a smash and grab raid to the Ulster 22 and managed to create an overlap on the right for Nick Walne to dot the ball down.

Ulster hit back immediately, McMillan brushing aside Emyr Lewis' tackle to claim his second touchdown.

That was followed by a penalty try when a Cardiff boot kicked the ball out of the back row as the visiting pack were driving over. Humphreys added both conversions.

Ulster skipper Andy ward tackles Cardiff scrum-half Robert Powell
Andy Ward snares Cardiff's scrum-half Powell
Some very slack defence in Ulster's midfield allowed centre Matt Allen to sprint to the posts and Robinson's conversion kept Cardiff in touch at the interval.

The young fly-half slotted over two penalties to cut the gap further, but he was short with another, and opposite number Humphreys put over a kick of his own to steady Irish nerves.

Ulster lost South African prop Robbie Kempson to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Allen and Robinson punished him a second time by kicking the penalty in the 67th minute.

However, two penalties from the boot of Humphreys and a neat drop goal by full-back Bryn Cunningham a minute from the end sealed Ulster's nervous victory.

We took our mind off winning and started to concentrate on scoring tries

David Humphreys
Fighting chance

David Humphreys was happy with his side's win, but was aware that they need to beat Northampton by four tries or more at Ravenhill next week to qualify.

"We've given ourselves a chance," he said. "For the first 35 minutes that was probably the best we've played this season.

"But then we took our mind off winning and started to concentrate on scoring tries and that's where we lost focus a bit."

Cardiff skipper Martyn Williams was a disappointed man: "We had a good period in the second half, but we spoiled it with a few little mistakes," he said.

"All credit to Humphreys, he controlled the game in the last 20, especially when they were a man down."


Ulster: B Cunningham; J Topping; R Constable, S Stewart, S Coulter; D Humphreys, N Doak; R Kempson, M Sexton, S Best, G Longwell, J Davidson, A Ward, capt, N McMillan, T McWhirter.
Replacements: C Boyd, P Shields, M Blair, R Nelson, K Campbell, J Cunningham, S Young.

Cardiff: R Williams; N Walne, J Robinson, M Allen, A Sullivan; N Robinson, R Powell; P Rogers, G Woods, T Payne, H Senekal, J Tait, D Baugh, E Lewis, M Williams (capt).
Replacements: J Yapp, D Young, A Jones, D McShane, R Smith, I Harris, D Dewdney.

Referee: Robin Goodcliffe (England).

Att: 4,000

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 Ulster coach Alan Solomons
''We made things difficult for ourselves''
 Two-try hero Neil McMillan
''Just happy to get a big win away from home''

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

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