A 20 minute blitz was enough from Ulster to see off Cardiff Blues at Kingspan Stadium tonight.
Luke Marshall and Billy Burns were the try scorers for Dan McFarland’s men but it was far from a vintage performance.
Luke Marshall crossed after a Sean Reidy charge down and John Cooney penalty to put Ulster ten points up within as many minutes. After a very brief period defending in their 22, Ulster returned to the attacking half thanks to Cardiff indiscipline and Billy Burns scored Ulster’s second try after 20 minutes.
Errors from the away side made it incredibly easy for Ulster to build up their 17 point lead in the first half. Penalties gave the home side field position while great back play from Burns, Marshall and Faddes had the defence at sixes and sevens.
Luke Marshall was shown a yellow card with a minute left in the half and was a victim of persistent team infringements. It was Cardiff’s first venture into the Ulster 22 but Dan McFarland’s defence stood strong and secured a 17 point lead at the break.
In the first half, Ulster played some lovely rugby. The back line was on top and continually made metres with the ball in hand and looked certain to kick on and gain the four tries. However this wasn’t the case as Cardiff came out a different side in the second half and played a much more to their capability.
Aled Summerhill crossed two minutes after the restart despite a pass from Morgan that appeared to go forward. Nevertheless, Ulster returned to the Cardiff half and John Cooney slotted a penalty from the restart.
John Mulvihill’s side came out fired up and were six points off Ulster by the hour mark. Will Boyde scored a try after a Rory Thornton turnover in the middle of the pitch. From an Ulster point of view, both tries could have been prevented and it gave the away side a route back into the game.
Cardiff’s set-piece kept them in the game. A dominant scrum won four penalties, three of which were in the second half. A 20-minute blitz was enough for the home side coupled with a plethora of Blues’ mistakes.
Marshall’s sin binning swung the momentum in favour of the away side and Jarrod Evans had the chance to clinch a losing bonus point with the last kick of the game but it drifted wide. Cardiff had plenty of chances to add to their try tally but were always masters of their own downfall.
Still after that dominating opening 20, I think McFarland and co will be disappointed that they weren’t able to come away with the try bonus point. I’m sure if Leinster or Munster were in Ulster’s position they would have kicked on and put 25-30 points between the sides.
Ulster are next in action on 1st November as they entertain Zebre before a tricky trip to Thomond Park to take on Munster. A bonus point is a must against the Italians.