Ulster back to winning ways with bonus point win over Dragons

Ulster back to winning ways with bonus point win over Dragons
Stuart McCloskey of Ulster on his way to scoring his side's fifth try. Picture: Sportsfile

Ulster 36 - 18 Dragons

Ulster returned to winning ways in the Guinness PRO14 and also managed their first winning bonus point of the season when scoring five tries to defeat the Dragons 36-18 at the Kingspan Stadium.

Tries from Henry Speight, Dave Shanahan, Michael Lowry and two from Stuart McCloskey saw coach Dan McFarlands side home after leading 24-13 at half-time.

Johnny McPhillips kicked 11 points, from four conversions and a penalty, as a strong Ulster side won their first PRO14 game since beating the Kings in mid-September.

Dragons, who had not won in Belfast for a decade, scored tries from Huw Taylor and Jarryd Sage, with Jason Tovey kicking two conversions and a penalty.

McPhillips put Ulster 3-0 up seven minutes in and this became 10-0 after Speight's 11th minute score was converted by McPhillips. The score came after Ulster put together some excellent multi-phase attacking work with 21-year-old winger Robert Balacoune making a strong carry on is debut.

Jason Tovey's 15th minute penalty, won by Nic Cudd off Shanahan, cut the lead to 10-3.

Ulster responded when Addison then rifled through the Dragons' defence before drawing the last defenders to give Shanahan an easy run in for Ulster's second try, on 22 minutes.

McPhillips' conversion made it 17-3 but again the Dragons responded and, off a scrum, flanker Taylor barrelled over on the half hour after some good approach work by Adam Warren.

Tovey's conversion narrowed the deficit to 17-10 and they scored again from Tovey's 37th minute penalty, after some hard driving near Ulster's line led to the inevitable penalty.

Iain Henderson then made a huge surge upfield, losing his boot in the process, but his line-bust helped create the half-chance for Lowry which the full-back took to nail Ulster's third try on half-time. McPhillips' conversion gave the hosts a 24-13 interval lead.

Nine minutes after the restart, Ulster had their try bonus when McCloskey was put in by McPhillips after Speight had made ground on the left. McPhillips missed the extras but Ulster led 29-13.

Centre Sage smashed over for the Dragons from close range for an unconverted try in the 67th minute and although the visitors had several chances to score again, it was Ulster who got the last touchdown when Kieran Treadwell's run put McCloskey under the posts for his second - which McPhillips converted.

- PA

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