ULSTER RUGBY FELL to their first Heineken Cup defeat of the season in a 10-9 reverse to Northampton Saints on Saturday.
Leaders of Pool 4, Ulster were cut down to size by some early Saints scoring at Ravenhill, with Gerrit-Jan van Velze crossing for a try in the 17th minute, duly converted by Steve Myler, who had earlier slotted a penalty.
Northampton’s 10-0 lead did not last long, however, as Paddy Jackson booted two penalties prior to the break, but crucially missed another.
Another three-pointer shortly after the interval had Ulster within a point, but the Saints held on to secure the win after Ruan Pienaar missed a penalty kick in the 77th minute, which would have won it for Ulster.
The win takes Northampton into second spot in Pool 4, with Ulster still comfortably topping the division.
In other results, Montpellier Rugby accounted for the Cardiff Blues 34-21 at Stade Yves du Manoir.
Tries to Timoci Nagusa, Yoan Audrin, Johnnie Beattie and Rassie van Vuuren guided the French club to victory, their third in four matches, taking them top of Pool 6.
Harlequins blitzed Zebre 53-5 to move within touching distance of the quarter-finals.
The defending Aviva Premiership champions notched seven tries to one to claim a bonus-point victory at the Stoop in London.
Saturday’s result also ensures John Kingston’s troops remain unbeaten in Pool 3, 10 points clear of their nearest rival Biarritz Olympique with two matches still to play.
In Pool 5, reigning champions Leinster suffered a 28-21 defeat to Clermont Auvergne, who made it four wins from four games, while a late try from James Scaysbrook helped Exeter to a hard-fought 30-20 win over Scarlets.
A late penalty try lifted Leicester to a 14-13 victory against Treviso and top spot in Pool 2.
Treviso took control of proceedings with 13 unanswered points but a penalty try three minutes from time handed Leicester maximum points and a one-point lead atop of the group after Ospreys upstaged Toulouse 17-6.