Ulster march on in the Guinness PRO14 with a hard fought 21-13 win over Connacht at the Kingspan Stadium this evening.

An early try from Nick Timoney set the tempo while Marcell Coetzee secured the victory two minutes before the end of the match.

The home side stifled Connacht, restricting the away side to just 37% of the possession and led 11-3 at the break. John Cooney opened the scoring after five minutes through a penalty after Dan McFarland’s men were duly rewarded for great ball retention from the kick off.

Timoney scored Ulster’s first try ten minutes later in a well worked move from the forwards. Marcell Coetzee slightly arched his carry to turn the shoulders of the outside Connacht defender, creating a two on one on the wing. Kieran Treadwell offloaded in contact and Nick Timoney showed his Sevens pace to cross the line.

Connacht were restricted to three clean breaks all game and two of them came in the first half an hour. Anytime they ventured into the Ulster 22, the defensive system devised by Jared Payne clicked into life with Coetzee, Kane, Treadwell and Henderson putting in big tackles.

Jack Carty kicked a penalty to bring his side to within five points however this was cancelled out after Bundee Aki caught Billy Burns with a high shot at the end of the first half. Andrew Brace said Burns’ body angle was a mitigating factor allowing the inside centre to escape any further sanction though I thought it warranted a yellow card. Cooney stepped up and slotted the kick.

Carty missed an early penalty in the second half but Connacht showed signs of improvement. They were the first side on the board after capitalizing on an intercept from Colby Fainga’a. The Australian offloaded to Bundee Aki who made up for his misdemeanor at the end of the first half to score.

Cooney kicked his third penalty with 20 minutes left leaving Connacht requiring a try to take the lead. While Ulster were the better side, the tension ramped up when Carty kicked his second penalty with 12 minutes left. The northern province had plenty of opportunities to seal the game, however a lack of incision and handling errors kept the game in the balance.

Coetzee rounded off a wonderful man of the match performance with a try, two minutes from the end. Ulster showed good composure to grow through 20 phases before the South African international reached out with a big paw to dot down. Billy Burns slotted the kick before Ulster gathered the restart and closed out the game.

This wonderful season continues as Ulster now have to prepare for a trip to Scotstoun for the semi final against Glasgow. It’ll be a different side that will take the field to the one that lost there at the start of April but a win is not outside the realms of possibility. Glasgow are a good side and probably the form team in the league so it will take a magnificent display to book a place at Celtic Park.

6.9 Performance

It wasn't a vintage UIster peformance to win their first knockout match since 2013. Connacht disrupted a few lineouts while unforced errors spoiled opportunities in promising positions.
Nevertheless, there were a few standout performers. Marcell Coetzee was superb in attack as well as defence, setting up one try and scoring another.
Henderson and Treadwell were fantastic in defence and while they didn't make as many tackles as other players, they continually popped up with dominant tackles stopping the Connacht momentum.
Other notable mentions need to go to Ross Kane, Robert Baloucoune and Luke Marshall.

  • Eric O'Sullivan 6
  • Rory Best 7
  • Ross Kane 8
  • Iain Henderson 8
  • Kieran Treadwell 8
  • Nick Timoney 7
  • Jordi Murphy 7
  • Marcell Coetzee 8
  • John Cooney 6
  • Billy Burns 6
  • Rob Lyttle 6
  • Stuart McCloskey 7
  • Luke Marshall 7
  • Robert Baloucoune 7
  • Michael Lowry 7
  • Rob Herring 7
  • Andy Warwick N/A
  • Tom O'Toole 6
  • Alan O'Connor N/A
  • Sean Reidy N/A
  • Dave Shanahan 6
  • Darren Cave N/A
  • Angus Kernohan N/A
  • User Ratings (2 Votes) 5.7