Classy Cooney puts Ulster in sight of European Cup quarter-finals

PARIS (AFP) – Ireland’s John Cooney scored 19 points in another impressive display as Ulster moved six points clear at the top of Pool 3 in the European Champions Cup with a 34-10 victory over Harlequins on Friday.

Scrum-half Cooney, 29, who has eight Test appearances but missed out on Rugby World Cup selection, crossed twice either side of the interval as the Irish province remain unbeaten in the tournament ahead of the final two rounds of action in January.

On Sunday, a Clermont victory over bottom side Bath would further Dan McFarland’s outfit’s claims for a last-eight spot.

“I’m happy with the way it’s going at the moment. We showed a lot of desire,” Cooney told broadcasters BT Sport.

“We’re taking those opportunities and it’s a reflection of the way we’re trying to play,” he added.

Despite dominating the opening 35 minutes, the Irish province only had a 3-0 advantage thanks to a Cooney three-pointer.

Quins centre James Lang responded with a penalty of his own before Cooney scored his first try of the proceedings in drizzling west London rain.

Fly-half Billy Burns broke from his own 22 metre line and the ball eventually ended up with Cooney after coming through the hands of Jacob Stockdale and Matt

Faddes and Ulster had a 10-3 lead at the break.