A much-changed Harlequins exited the Challenge Cup to an impressive Ulster side who ran in 57 points on Sunday night.
A rampant first 30 minutes from the men in red saw the visitors take control of the game and put 29 points on the board before half-time. Four more second-half tries saw the team from Belfast progress to the next round.
Quins started the game on the front foot, testing the Ulster defensive line numerous times as the forwards looked to get over the gain line inside the Ulster 22.
The first try of the game was scored by the visitors eight minutes in as inside centre Stuart McCloskey powered over the line from yards out to give his side an early lead in South West London. John Cooney slotted the extras to put Ulster seven points in front.
The lead was extended to ten points minutes later as Quins were penalised at the breakdown. Cooney kicked the penalty through the sticks to boost his points tally to five in and give his side the upper hand early on.
Halfway through the first half Quins found themselves two tries down as a well-worked driving maul from a line out on Quins’ 5m line allowed hooker Rob Herring to dot down and score his first try of the evening. Once again scrum-half John Cooney added the extras to leave Quins 17 points down.
Just minutes later Ulster had their third try of the night as their forwards drove over the line from metres out to increase the lead. Cooney was on-target to continue his fine form from the boot and boost his side’s advantage in the game.
30 minutes in and Ulster found themselves down to 14 men as Jordi Murphy was sent to the bin for collapsing the maul from one metre out, denying Quins their first try.
Quins capitalised on the extra man advantage as skipper Tom Lawday powered over to score and put Quins on the board, bringing them right back into the game. Brett Herron slotted the conversion to close the gap.
It didn’t take long for Ulster to score their fourth try of the game. A lovely run through the Quins back line meant Mike Lowry could dive over in the corner, extending his side’s lead over heading into the break.
The second half started at a rate of knots as both sides looked to play attacking rugby with both Quins and Ulster looking to play through the hands of the backs.
Ulster hooker Rob Herring scored his second try of the evening after another strong driving maul. Cooney’s conversion was successful.
It went bad to worse for Quins as Billy Burns intercepted a wide pass to run under the posts and score another Ulster try.
Flanker Jack Kenningham smashed his way over the try line to score Quins’ second try of the evening. Herron slotted the conversion.
Ulster’s seventh try of the game came courtesy of replacement scrum-half Alby Matthewson as he danced through the Harlequins defence to score. Madigan’s conversion was successful.
Try number eight followed a few minutes later as Sean Reid scored his second of the game, with Madigan’s subsequent conversion successful.
Quins ended the game on a high note as impact player Jordan Els powered over to score. Herron added the extras to round off a frustrating evening at the Stoop.
Final score: Harlequins 21 - 57 Ulster
Try: Lawday (32 min), Kenningham (66 min), Els (77 min)
Conversion: Herron (33, 67, 78 min)
Try: McCloskey (8 min), Herring (22, 57 min), Reidy (26, 70 min), Lowry (33 min), Burns (60 min), Matthewson (67 min)
Conversion: Cooney (9, 24, 29, 58, 61 min), Madigan (68, 71 min)
Penalty: Cooney (13 min)
Green, Northmore, Lang, Lasike, Earle, Herron, Steele, Lawday, Kenningham, White, Hammond, Tizard, Collier, Elia, Garcia Botta
Head, Els, Kerrod, Cavubati, Jurevicius, Stafford, Tapuai, Chisholm
Lowry, Baloucoune, Hume, McCloskey, Stockdale, Burns, Cooney, Timoney, Murphy, Reidy, Treadwell, O’Connor, Moore, Herring, O’Sullivan
Andrew, Warwick, O’Toole, Izuchukwu, Rea, Matthewson, Madigan, Mcllory
Next match: Worcester Warriors. The Twickenham Stoop. Saturday April 17. 15:00 kick-off.