High jumper Ulster douse Dragon’s fire with 36-18 win
Ireland international Iain Henderson rises highest to claim a lineout ball during last night’s Guinness Pro14 game against the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium. PHOTOGRAPH: TOMMY DICKSON/INPHO Out-of-sorts Connacht beaten by last minute Ospreys try –
After their troubles in the league, this was a significant morale booster for Ulster who also managed to produce their first try-bonus win of the season to boot.
Indeed, it was the northern province’s first Pro14 victory since the win over the Kings back in mid-September so no better time to rack up five tries as a strong Ulster side – with Rory Best, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy and new Irish squad member Will Addison all starting – downed Bernard Jackman’s Dragons as expected.
Stuart McCloskey also marked his return to the expanded Ireland squad with two second-half tries to supplement the earlier ones scored by Henry Speight, Dave Shanahan and the impressive Michael Lowry.
Johnny McPhillips also looked sharp on his first start this season at outhalf and kicked 11 points.
It didn’t take long for Ulster to get going with McPhillips’s early penalty being added to on 11 minutes by a well-worked try from Henry Speight which was converted by the No 10.
Jason Tovey pulled a penalty back for the Dragons but Ulster them came again with Addison scorching through a gap to put Shanahan over unopposed. McPhillips added the two points to the 22nd-minute score and Ulster were 17-3 ahead.
Again the Dragons came back and, off a scrum, flanker Taylor barrelled over on the half hour after some good approach work by Adam Warren.
Tovey’s conversion narrowed the home side’s lead to 17-10 and they scored again from Tovey’s 37th minute penalty after some hard driving near Ulster’s line led to the inevitable penalty.
Henderson then made a huge surge up-field to help create the half-chance for Lowry which the full-back took to nail Ulster’s third try on half-time.
Nine minute after the restart, Ulster had their try bonus when McCloskey was put in by McPhillips.
Centre Jarryd Sage smashed over for the Dragons from close range for an unconverted try in the 67th minute and though they had a number of chances to score again it was Ulster who got the last touchdown when Kieran Treadwell’s gut-busting run put McCloskey under the posts for his second which McPhillips converted.