Ulster kicked off their Heineken Cup with a 22-16 Pool 5 victory over Leicester Tigers ar Ravenhill on Friday night.
Leicester Tigers replacement Owen Williams kicked a late penalty for the visitors to earn them a losing bonus point.
Leicester scored the opening try of the match but let Ulster take the lead by half time and although they were still in the match in the final quarter the hosts scored 9 points while Jordan Crane was in the sin-bin.
Fly-half Paddy Jackson hit five penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of 17 points .
“There was no panic at half-time even though we’d made a lot of errors,” Ulster flanker and man-of-the match Roger Wilson told Sky Sports.
“And all credit to Leicester, they got their bonus point at the end.”
Leicester’s Logovi’i Mulipola was the recipient of a fantastic Daniel Bowden pass after an earlier Toby Flood break, and the Samoan prop crashed over for the opening try after seven minutes at Ravenhill.
In a hard-hitting opening quarter, Ulster came firing back, winger Tommy Bowe outleaping Leicester full-back Niall Morris to get on the end of a perfect Jackson cross-kick.
Flood banged over a 20th minute penalty to reinstall the visitors’ lead, only for Jackson to reply in kind 10 minutes later.
After a Tigers infringement following a sharp break by scrum-half Paul Marshall, Jackson kicked a second penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Flood levelled the scored four minutes into the second period with his second penalty after Jackson strayed offside.
Jackson then missed a straightforward pot at goal, but calmed home nerves with one in the 59th minute to take Ulster out to 16-13.
With handling errors to the fore in a match featuring some very accurate out-of-hand kicking, Jackson added two more penalties as firstly an under-pressure Tigers pack missing yellow-carded Jordan Crane popped up and then prop Dan Coles was ruled offside with Ulster threatening.
Replacement Owen Williams missed a drop-goal but nailed a penalty with three minutes remaining that gifted Leicester an invaluable bonus point in a pool that also includes in-form French club Montpellier and Italians Treviso.
“It means a lot to take the bonus point,” said Flood.
“We have to make sure we recover from this and bounce back next week.”
Ulster prop Roger Wilson was named Heineken Cup man of the match.
Ulster (13) 22 / 16 (10) Leicester Tigers:
Tries – Bowe
Pen – Jackson 5
Con – Jackson
Tries – Mulipola
Pen – Flood 2, Williams
Con – Flood
Referee: Romain Poite (France),
Assistant Referees: Christophe Berdos (France), Stephane Boyer (France),
TMO: Bernard Dal Maso (France),
Citing Commissioner: Ray Wilton (Wales)
Ulster Rugby: Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Tommy Bowe; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Rory Best, Declan Fitzpatrick, Johann Muller (c), Dan Tuohy, Roger Wilson, Chris Henry, Nick Williams
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Iain Henderson, Robbie Diack, Ruan Pienaar, Stuart Olding, Michael Allen
Leicester Tigers: Niall Morris; Miles Benjamin, Vereniki Goneva, Dan Bowden, Adam Thompstone; Toby Flood (c), Ben Youngs; Logovii Mulipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Louis Deacon, Geoff Parling, Ed Slater, Julian Salvi, Jordan Crane
Replacements: Neil Briggs, Boris Stankovich, Fraser Balmain, Graham Kitchener, Thomas Waldrom, David Mele, Owen Williams, Terrence Hepetema.