A five-try win over the Southern Kings sees Ulster move back into second spot in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 with three tough matches remaining.

Stuart McCloskey, Rob Lyttle and Marcell Coetzee added first half tries while Robert Baloucoune and John Andrew rounded off the score line in the second half.

Ulster came firing out of the blocks and were a try up inside ten minutes. Dave Shanahan spotted space down the blindside and Stuart McCloskey bundled over for the first try of the evening.

The second try followed on 15 minutes. Magic feet from replacement Michael Lowry created a two-on-one with Rob Lyttle and the Banbridge man finished in the corner. Kings were on the board a few minutes later however, through Yaw Penxe. Good ball retention created numbers up on the outside and the winger finished well. Ulster got caught on the blindside as the Kings did for Ulster’s first try.

Ulster gifted the Kings another try when Ulrich Beyers dotted down and the momentum was firmly in the camp of the away side. Ulster weathered a minor Kings’ storm and added a third try through Marcell Coetzee with five minutes left in the first half.

Ulster remained dominant at the start of the second half and the bonus point was secured eight minutes after the restart. Several penalties conceded by Kings kept the home side firmly planted five metres from the line and when the ball was spread wide, Baloucoune provided the finish.

Southern Kings showed character and returned for a stint of pressure on the Ulster line but Rob Lyttle pulled off a fantastic steal to halt the visitors. As the changes were rung, the game became more disjointed and the Kings enjoyed more possession and territory. Mike Willemse grabbed the third try for the Port Elizabeth side and the successful conversion narrowed the gap to nine points.

The game was sealed 13 minutes from the end. Tertius Kruger was deservedly shown a red card for a high hit on Robert Baloucoune while Alandre van Rooyen was yellow carded for a swinging arm on John Cooney in the same passage of play.

They played in the correct manner for the remaining 13 minutes but handling errors let the away side off the hook. Two entries into the Kings’ 22 went unpunished before John Andrew put the icing and cherry on top of the cake with the fifth try of the night, capping off a job well done.

The cards towards the end of the game made it easier for Ulster as they took their foot off the gas. I got the impression that Ulster held a lot back in this match which is perhaps understandable considering the task ahead next week. It was crucial that Ulster got through this match unscathed but unfortunately Louis Ludik was a casualty inside ten minutes. In better news, Marcell Coetzee got through his 55 minutes unscathed as well as putting in a few strong carries too.

Yes, the intensity will need to be turned up a notch ahead of Leinster but the bonus point win sees Ulster reclaim second spot from Benetton Rugby. Five points was a must as they now must travel to Scotstoun and Murrayfield as well as a final match against Leinster at Kingspan. All three matches will be tough but two wins should be enough to seal a play off spot.

6.8 Performance

Stuart McCloskey put in another fantastic performance at inside centre. His offloading and direct running was a constant threat for Ulster and the away side couldn’t cope with him in the first half.
Rob Lyttle’s strip on his own line was impressive and I liked the way he came in field in the second half to act as a second playmaker. In the back row, Matty Rea and Nick Timoney put in solid shifts while Marcell Coetzee received the plaudits for his explosive ball carrying.

  • Andy Warwick 6
  • Rob Herring 7
  • Marty Moore 6
  • Alan O'Connor 6
  • Ian Nagle 7
  • Matthew Rea 7
  • Nick Timoney 7
  • Marcell Coetzee 8
  • Dave Shanahan 6
  • Billy Burns 7
  • Rob Lyttle 8
  • Stuart McCloskey 9
  • Darren Cave 6
  • Robert Baloucoune 6
  • Louis Ludik N/A
  • John Andrew 6
  • Wiehahn Herbst 6
  • Tom O'Toole 7
  • Kieran Treadwell 6
  • Clive Ross 7
  • John Cooney 7
  • Michael Lowry 8
  • Angus Kernohan 6
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0