Following their defeat to Saracens, Ulster completely swamped Connacht to move into second place in the Pro12 with an eight-try annihilation of the men from the West.
!Ulster opened up with the first try in the fifth minute and had their bonus point 20 minutes later. Star of the show was undoubtedly Ireland wing Andrew Trimble, who not only scored a hat-trick of tries, but showed the power, dynamism and work-rate that encapsulated his Six Nations performances. Lively scrum-half Paul Marshall chipped in with a couple with Luke Marshall, Tommy Bowe and Craig Gilroy also scoring.
Connacht had not even been anywhere near Ulster’s half when the home side surged ahead thanks to a misplaced cross-field kick by Dan Parks who failed to find left winger Fionn Carr inside his own 22. Trimble hassled Carr to gain possession and after a few quick rucks it was Marshall who dived over.
McSharry lifted Connacht’s hopes with a well-worked try in the eight minute, but Jackson restored Ulster’s lead in the 11th minute with a 38-meter penalty and that was improved four minutes later when Trimble flashed in at the left-hand corner.
Connacht found Ulster No 8 Nick Williams a big stumbling block with his big hits in the early exchanges.
But it Ulster who forged further ahead in the 23rd minute. Good build-up work by lock IainHenderson saw Jackson flip a short pass to the on-running Trimble who broke through the defence and drew last man Robbie Henshaw to give Bowe a run-in.
Jackson converted and also added the extra as Ulster clocked up their bonus point. Connacht were sleeping at an Ulster lineout of their own making with Trimble tossing the ball to scrum-half Marshall, who scuttled through the defence to score his second try.
At 27-5 ahead, it was already in the bag for Ulster as they began to treat the ball like a hot piece of coal in the run-up to half-time, with Marshall nearly grabbing his hat-trick after a quick tap and kick and chase.
Connacht needed a big start to the second half, but only succeeded in handing Ulster their fifth try inside 90 seconds. The visitors had tried to keep the ball live out wide, but lost possession and Bowe was quick to snaffle the loose ball and feed Trimble who sprinted 70m to the line.
The sixth try was elegance itself and right off the training ground, as Jackson looped around Bowe into a space before sprinting away and giving the scoring pass to Marshall. Easy as you like.
A yellow card for replacement Michael Swift only added to Connacht’s woes as Trimble immediately grabbed his third try off a defensively-absent blindside scrum.
Darren Leader did stop the one-way flow with a breakaway try, but normal domination resumed soon after with Gilroy picking up try number eight.
Scorers for Ulster: Tries: P Marshall 2, Trimble 3, Bowe, L Marshall, Gilroy. Pens: Jackson 2. Cons: Jackson 5, McKinney.
Scorers for Connacht: Tries: McSharry, Leader. Cons: Nikora.
ULSTER: R Andrew; A Trimble, T Bowe, L Marshall (McCloskey, 53), C Gilroy; P Jackson (McKinney, 61), P Marshall (Heaney, 59); A Warwick (Court, 63), R Herring (Annett, 49), R Lutton (Macklin, 63), J Muller capt, I Henderson, R Diack (Doyle, 8), C Henry (Stevenson, 59), N Williams.
CONNACHT: R Henshaw; T O’Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr (Leader, 43); D Parks (Nikora, 61), K Marmion; D Buckley (Bealham, 61; Buckley, 71)), J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, A Muldowney, M Kearney (Swift, 54), J Muldoon capt, E Masterson (Brown, 40), E McKeon.
Referee: I Davies (WRU).