Ulster leave Newport with a bonus point win for the first time since October 2012 thanks to a 28-15 win over the Dragons.
Jordi Murphy scored a solitary try in the first half, while a quick fire double from Marty Moore and John Cooney secured the result before Alan O’Connor gave Ulster their fourth league TBP of the season. The result sees Ulster move into third position in Conference B and trail second-placed Benetton by a point.
Playing against the wind in the first half, it was difficult for Ulster to gain any foothold in the Dragons’ half and it was the home side who was first on the board thanks to a Josh Lewis penalty. Ulster had a sustained period of possession in the Dragons 22 and super close control from the forwards ensured that Jordi Murphy drove over after multiple phases.
Robert Baloucoune nearly made it two scores for Ulster after a great counter attack off a Murphy turnover but Jordan Williams covered well and knocked the Enniskillen man into touch. Ulster ended the first half a man light when Darren Cave was deservedly sent to the sin bin for an early tackle. The away side were in a promising position but hesitancy at the break down allowed Taine Basham to pounce and break away in the build up to the yellow card.
I thought Ulster left a few points out there in the first half but were dominant and deserved to be four points up at the break.
Ulster picked up where they left off and Marty Moore scored his first try for the northern province. The former Wasps man probably saved the Dragons from a yellow card with that try as they had cynically brought down two mauls in a row. The third try followed two minutes later when Ulster punished the Dragons for a poor kick. Baloucoune collected, before feeding Ludik and with a simple two-on-one, popped it to the reliable John Cooney to run under the sticks.
Two yellow cards followed for Ulster. Rob Lyttle and Louis Ludik were sent to the sin bin for intentional knock downs with Ludik’s resulting in a penalty try. Nevertheless what followed after the penalty try must be up there for Ulster’s try of the season. Down to 13 men, the ball was kept tight, for a multitude of phases with Ulster switching between pick and goes and carries off nine or ten with each one making a small amount of yards. In the end, Alan O’Connor crashed over for the pivotal bonus point score.
Dragons grabbed a consolation try towards the end with the impressive Taine Basham the beneficiary. That’s Ulster’s unbeaten run extended to five matches and with the Southern Kings next, you’d expect Ulster to extend that to six.
We’re building nicely and are giving ourselves a great shot at finishing in the play off spots at the end of the season. After the Kings, attention turns to D-Day in the Aviva Stadium before a tricky run in with trips to Scotstoun and Murrayfield on the cards before welcoming Leinster to Kingspan on the final day.