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Ulster's single pool game win sees them progress to Champions Cup last 16

By PA
Belfast , United Kingdom - 21 January 2023; James Hume of Ulster after his side's victory in the Heineken Champions Cup Pool B Round 4 match between Ulster and Sale Sharks at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Second-half tries from Rob Herring and Duane Vermeulen put Ulster through to the European Champions Cup knockout stages as a 22-11 win over Sale Sharks also ended their losing run.

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It was the Irish province’s first win in the pool stages and knocked Sale out of the competition after the Gallagher Premiership side had beaten Ulster 39-0 in the opening round.

Rob Lyttle also scored a try for Ulster, who now face Leinster away in the round of 16, with John Cooney kicking two conversions and Nathan Doak a penalty in a tense clash which saw the home team lead 8-6 at half-time.

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Sale scored one try through Tom Curry and kicked two penalties from Robert du Preez.

Du Preez opened Sale’s account after two minutes after Ulster had collapsed a maul and the English Premiership side had all the early play, forcing the home side into kicking errors and breakdown turnovers.

Ulster resisted and came back into the game only to ignore an overlap and then nearly work Doak over on a penalty advantage.

The upshot of that was a yellow card for Bevan Rodd in the 17th minute but Ulster, opting for a pick and go, were penalised again at the breakdown.

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However, Ulster did manage to score after 19 minutes. Billy Burns’ break put them on the front foot and on a penalty advantage Burns threw a long ball out to Lyttle who made the corner. Doak missed the extras.

Sale hit back next and when Sam Carter strayed offside, Du Preez went for the posts and put the visitors back into the lead.

Two minutes before half-time, Ulster were awarded a scrum penalty allowing Doak to step up and kick them back in front at 8-6 which is how the first half ended.

Five minutes after the restart, Doak was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on and shortly afterwards Sale had a try when Curry combined with Ewan Ashman around the front of a lineout with Curry making the line.

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Du Preez was wide with the conversion, but Sale now led 11-8.

Ulster were then twice held up on Sale’s line and replacement Cooney was also hauled down after combining with Michael Lowry down the right.

It put Ulster in Sale’s 22, and from a lineout they mauled for the line and Herring got over in the 64th minute. Cooney’s conversion put the home side four points in front.

It was all Ulster now and with four minutes to go, Jono Ross was yellow-carded. Herring tapped the penalty and Vermeulen, with Jordi Murphy and Kieran Treadwell latching on, made the line.

Cooney’s conversion made it 22-11.

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