Ulster carefully and reap rewards
KIERAN TREADWELL scored the only try and Ulster grabbed their sixth win of the season in the Pro14 with a narrow victory over Cardiff Blues at Kingspan Stadium.
Returning Ireland internationals Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale both came off the bench to make some crucial turnovers late on while John Cooney scored from all four kicks.
The Ulster scrum-half was the top point scorer in the Pro14 last season and he was a welcome inclusion after his first start for Ireland against the USA last weekend.
Cardiff took a 12-10 lead into half-time after a hotly contested first half.
Ulster got the first points on the board when Olly Robinson was penalised at the breakdown and Cooney scored the penalty.
That score came in the third minute and should have settled Ulster but Cardiff got some territory and only a knock-on from Samu Manoa prevented them from making it deep into the Ulster 22.
Cardiff came again however and, with Manoa and former Ulster man Nick Williams in the back row, they had two huge powerhouses.
Both were involved in the opening try when they pulverised the Ulster defence and Matthew Morgan scored in the left corner.
Jarrod Evans missed the conversion and Ulster scored next when Stuart Mccloskey tapped and went with a penalty in the 13th minute.
He got his hands free in the tackle and the ball rebounded off Treadwell’s shins before he re-gathered to finish impressively.
Cooney slotted the extras for a 10-5 lead but that lead was short lived and Kristian Dacey scored his second try in as many weeks after a team effort from a rolling maul.
Evans did convert on this occasion and that was the difference as Cardiff led by two at half-time.
The first score of the second half didn’t arrive until 18 minutes in when Cooney stroked over a penalty from in front of the posts.
Seb Davies got yellow in the 55th minute when he collided with Ross Kane’s back.
Cooney scored two penalties to move Ulster just out of range and a late turnover from Best was crucial, while Stockdale did likewise with Ulster in deep trouble.
Ulster go to Scarlets next weekend for the first of their back-to-back Champions Cup games.
ASTUTE: Ulster star Stuart Mccloskey offloads the ball
TEMPERS FLARE: Ulster & Cardiff players clash