On Friday night, it was time for my annual one Rugby match a year, as I headed to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Wasps.
I usually do one European group match a year, and this was the one that was most convenient for me. Last year, I didn’t actually go to any group matches as they were all on Saturday afternoons. Sorry, but football takes priority.
It was Friday 13th, and Belfast was treated to rain. That wasn’t bad luck, that was just usual Belfast weather.
There wasn’t quite the buzz (sorry) as Wasps flew into to town, with pockets of empty seats around the ground. It was a tough game for Ulster, but not Mission Impossible (again, sorry) despite the presence of Tom Cruse in the opposition line-up, as they aimed to be the Top Gun in the group.
The two sides had previously met in recent months, with Wasps winning a Pre-Season Friendly at Ravenhill in August.
Wasps took an early lead before Ulster responded as both sides exchange penalties, although there was a missed Ulster penalty sandwiched inbetween. Wasteful kicking by Ulster would be a theme throughout the game.
There wasn’t much excitement in the rest of the first-half. However, as it looked like both teams were going in at half-time level, Wasps got a penalty to make it 6-3.
An early penalty from Wasps looked set to take the game away from Ulster as their lead increase to 9-3, that was until a double burst of tries from Jacob Stockdale and Stuart McCloskey turned the game around and put Ulster in front for the first time.
However, the conversion was missed for both tries, meaning Ulster had a 13-9 lead when it could have been 17-9. Wasps were still in touch.
If Ulster fans were worried that those lost points would turn out to be costly, they shouldn’t have been, as Christian Lealiifano converted two penalties to give Ulster a 19-9 lead.
Wasps had one big attack which caused panic amongst the Ravenhill crowd, as they feared a try, but Ulster were able to defend it and ensure Wasps wouldn;t be adding any more points to the scoreboard.
As the minutes ticked away, it was becoming more obvious that this was going to be Ulster’s night, as the dream of glory in Bilbao next May remains intact.