Ulster storm to top of conference
Ulster went top of Conference B after racking up their fourth straight win from as many games as they swept a weakened Dragons outfit aside in an eight-try pasting.
Number eight Nick Timoney scored twice and secured the man-of-the-match award in a storming display while Charles Piutau was centrally involved in much of Ulster’s good work as they burnt the Dragons in a first half which saw them manage five tries with the bonus point wrapped up by Timoney before half an hour had gone.
With Bernard Jackman having made 13 changes, Ulster gratefully accepted their open invitation to rack up a big score – they managed three tries with Lloyd Fairbrother binned in the first half – even though Les Kiss also put out a changed line-up and the home side led 33-13 at the break.
Prior to Timoney’s score, Stuart McCloskey and Peter Nelson – the latter added five conversions – had earlier crossed before a penalty try was awarded and Ulster had a fifth in the bag, from blood sub Wiehahn Herbst, with Nelson having added four conversions.
Though Ulster, with Iain Henderson making his first appearance of the season from the bench, were perhaps not as ruthless as they would have hoped as the second half progressed – they conceded three tries during this period and only scored three themselves after racing to an early 45-13 lead in that second 40 minutes - there was never any danger of them losing their grip on the this game.
Jacob Stockdale continued his scoring form with a third try in as many games before Timoney burst through for his second and Shanahan crossed after the hour mark after taking a tap penalty to himself.
It was slightly disappointing for Kiss that Dragons’ subs Rhys Buckley, Dane Blacker and Will Talbot-Davies all got over the Ulster line and that Rodney Ah You was yellow-carded in the 80th minute but there was no denying Ulster this big scoreline.