Ireland star Iain Henderson made his presence felt on his return from injury as he celebrated his 100th Ulster appearance with a man-of-the-match display to help his side into the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
In the week he was named as part of Joe Schmidt’s training squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations, having recovered from the thumb surgery he underwent in mid-December, the towering lock was imperious at Welford Road as Ulster edged past Leicester Tigers 14-13.
A reliable presence in the lineout as ever, Henderson was also a menace at the breakdown and around the park in a performance that will have given Schmidt plenty of food for thought ahead of their first game of this year’s Championship against England in a fortnight.
Ulster trailed Tigers 13-0 with just half-an-hour left but tries from Marty Moore and Robert Baloucoune – both converted by Irish scrum-half John Cooney – snatched victory and guaranteed them a best runners-up spot to reach the knockouts.
Ireland and Ulster skipper Rory Best also produced a captain’s performance as he made 12 tough metres on eight bruising carries and completed 14 tackles in the victory.
The 36-year-old hooker will be appearing in his 14th Championship this spring, having first played in the 2006 edition.