A Kieran Treadwell try and 11 points from the boot of John Cooney edged out Cardiff in a narrow encounter at the Kingspan Stadium this afternoon.

The result, combined with Edinburgh’s hammering last night consolidates Ulster’s third place in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 while they tie level on points with Scarlets who were defeated by Glasgow tonight.

Matthew Morgan opened the scoring for the away side after nine minutes. Ulster couldn’t get their defence sorted quick enough on their own five metre line and Jarrod Evans fired a ball out to the fullback who scored in the corner.

Ulster responded five minutes later through Kieran Treadwell. Stuart McCloskey showed good awareness to see that their were front row forwards in front of him when he took quick tap penalty. His offload found the shin of Treadwell and the former Harlequins’ lock gathered at the second attempt to touch down.

The lead didn’t last long however as Kristian Dacey scored his fourth try of the season off a rolling maul. Cardiff committed a number of their backs to the maul and while Ulster thought they had successfully dealt with it, a secondary shove heaved the Welsh international over the line.

I thought Ulster’s attack was too one-dimensional which made it easy for the Cardiff defence. The Blues weren’t particularly creative either and this led to a pretty dull affair overall. A dink over the Cardiff defence from Billy Burns was gathered by James Hume which perked the Ulster faithful up but a poor follow up kick meant that the only promising move of the half ended in an anti-climactic fashion.

That chip represented the only line break that Ulster made in the game and makes it now just five clean breaks in the last three games. Converting linebreaks into points used to be a major strength however it has stagnated in recent weeks leading to less chances created.

Seb Davies was sent to the bin for a hit on Ross Kane which seemed a harsh decision but Ulster failed to capitalize on their man advantage, bar three points from the boot of John Cooney. Eric O’Sullivan pulled off a last ditch tackle on Tomos Williams which prevented a certain try. Cooney had a second penalty 13 minutes before the end of the match to give Ulster the win.

6.5 Performance

James Hume was Ulster’s best player and only player to register a line break. The former RBAI schoolboy made 44 metres of five carries and beat three defenders.

Marcell Coetzee was his usual self at the breakdown and made three turnovers while Sean Reidy and Jordi Murphy recorded 15 and 13 tackles without failure.

The maul was also a positive as Ulster found a lot of joy, particularly in the second half. It’s not something that Ulster have been blessed with in recent years so it’s good to see them gain some sort of advantage over the opposition.

Lastly, I thought Johnny McPhillips brought something different when he came on for Billy Burns. McPhillips has performed well when he’s got the chance this season so must be snapping at the heels of Burns.

  • Andy Warwick 6
  • Rob Herring 6
  • Marty Moore 6
  • Alan O'Connor 6
  • Kieran Treadwell 7
  • Sean Reidy 6
  • Jordi Murphy 7
  • Marcell Coetzee 8
  • John Cooney 6
  • Billy Burns 6
  • Louis Ludik 6
  • Stuart McCloskey 7
  • James Hume 8
  • Henry Speight 6
  • Michael Lowry 6
  • Rory Best 7
  • Eric O'Sullivan 7
  • Ross Kane 6
  • Ian Nagle 6
  • Nick Timoney 6
  • Dave Shanahan N/A
  • Johnny McPhillips 7
  • Jacob Stockdale 6
  • User Ratings (4 Votes) 6