The home side looked anything like potential champions, however, after a very untidy opening half which saw the Welsh visitors deservedly lead 13-10. But with a 20-point blast in 14 minutes at the start of the second half, Ulster cruised home with Andrew Trimble grabbing a brace of tries, 100-cap man Robbie Diack another and Ruan Pienaar contributing 22 points including the opening touchdown.
Trailing by three points at the break Ulster needed a positive restart. That materialised through the powerful running of Trimble who squeezed over with Pienaar adding the extras as Ulster stretched out a 23-13 lead within nine minutes of the second half.
They pulled further away in the 53rd minute when Trimble grabbed his second try after another trip to the TMO. Diack’s try at the end added gloss to the win.
Scorers for Ulster: Tries: Pienaar, Trimble 2. Diack; Pens: Pienaar 3; Cons: Pienaar 4.
Scorers for Cardiff Blues: Tries: Hewitt; Pen: Patchell; Con: Patchell; Dg: Patchell
ULSTER: J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave (Nelson, 66), S Olding, T Bowe (Allen 66); R Pienaar, P Marshall (Jackson, 50); C Black (Court, 60), R Best (Brady, 73), J Afoa (Fitzpatrick, 22); J Muller (capt) (Tuohy, 60), Henderson (Doyle, 65); R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.
CARDIFF BLUES: D Fish (Sweeney, 40); T James, G Evans (capt), D Hewitt, H Robinson (Smith, 74); R Patchell, L Jones (Davies, 74); T Filise (Ma’afu, 79), K Dacey (Breeze, 50), S Andrews (Davies, 65); B Davies, L Reed (Paulo, 50); L Hamilton, J Navidi, M Paterson.
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU).