You had to go back 14 games to 2001 for the last time Ulster had been beaten at Ravenhill before Friday the 13th last week.

But Ulster coach Mark McCall was still putting a brave face on things in the wake of the 24-8 defeat by Biarritz and looking forward to a positive ending against Benetton Treviso this weekend.

“We all know our Heineken Cup run has come to an end in the Pool stages once again this season and that is a huge disappointment for the players, coaches and fans,” said McCall.

“We had a very tough Pool once again, but this was a big missed opportunity for us. Our goal was to reach the quarter-finals and it was within our grasp.

“For 50 minutes of the game against Biarritz we were well in it, but the last 30 we fell away. It’s a shame to be going out, but we’ve picked up some good experience along the way.

“When you look at the average age of the Biarritz pack it is around 29 and 30. Our pack averages 23 or 24, so we can only get better with experience.

“If Biarritz get a home draw in the quarter-finals, then I’m sure they will reach the last four. They are a strong side and they have a number of big-game players.”