Published: Saturday January 12, 2013 MYT 7:53:00 AM
Updated: Saturday January 12, 2013 MYT 8:35:22 AM
Rugby: Ulster into European Cup quarter-finals(Update)
PARIS: Ulster, the 2012 runners-up, reached the European Cup quarter-finals for a third successive season on Friday with a 23-6 win over Glasgow at their rain-lashed Ravenhill home in Belfast.
Ulster's place in the last eight was guaranteed when Pool 4 rivals Castres were beaten 18-12 by Northampton.
The Irish side were in charge in the first-half against a Glasgow side who had lost all of their four group games.
South African scrum-half Ruan Pienaar gave them the lead with an early penalty before giant Kiwi No8 Nick Williams barrelled over for his first try of the tournament but seventh of the season just before the 20-minute mark.
Pienaar popped over the conversion for a 10-0 half-time lead with the Scots having seen Duncan Weir miss two kicks at goal.
But Weir reduced the deficit early in the second half with his first successful penalty and then added a second, making the most of Ulster being reduced to 14 men when lock Iain Henderson was yellow-carded for not rolling away.
Pienaar calmed Ulster nerves with a penalty after 62 minutes to give his team some breathing space at 13-6 but then went wide with another attempt soon after.
Late tries from Kiwi full-back Jared Payne and centre Darren Cave eventually gave Ulster a comfortable looking victory and helped erase memories their 10-9 loss to Northampton just before Christmas.
Ulster's joy at qualifying was tempered by injury concerns over Williams and fly-half Paddy Jackson both being helped off the pitch and needing to be replaced.
At Franklin's Gardens, Stephen Myler and Ryan Lamb kicked three penalties apiece to keep Northampton's slim hopes of a last-eight place alive although their failure to capture a bonus point may prove costly.
Controversial South Africa scrum-half Rory Kockott kicked four penalties for Castres.
Saints, who travel to bottom side Glasgow on the final weekend of group games, are on 14 points, five behind Ulster, who travel to Castres next Saturday looking to wrap up a home quarter-final slot.
"Going into next week, we have to get five points to keep hopes alive. We are doing all right away from home. The spirit is good in the camp," said Northampton captain Dylan Hartley.
"All we can do is worry about winning and hopefully the tries will come with that."
Elsewhere on Friday, Montpellier scored four-tries in a 27-6 bonus-point win at Sale to keep alive their hopes of qualifying from Pool 6. - AFP
European Cup results on Friday:
Northampton 18 Castres 12
Ulster 23 Glasgow 6
Sale 27 Montpellier 6
Racing Metro v Saracens (1540)
Harlequins v Connacht (1335)
Zebre v Biarritz (1335)
Clermont v Exeter (1800)
Leinster v Scarlets (1800)
Toulon v Cardiff Blues (1335)
Edinburgh v Munster (1245)
Ospreys v Leicester (1500)
Toulouse v Treviso (1500) - AFP