NIALL O’CONNOR booted Ulster to victory as they downed the Ospreys in a tense Magners League opener at Ravenhill last night.
The Ulster fly-half rifled over the winning penalty from 48 metres wide out on the left with eight minutes remaining of a game that saw the lead change at a whim.
O’Connor kicked 17 points and although he was outdone by his opposite number Dan Biggar who scored 21 points, tries by Stephen Ferris and Darren Cave proved enough to allow Ulster the booty.
Ulster held a slim 18-16 lead at the break after allowing the visitors to come from 13-3 behind with 14 men after Nikki Walker was yellow carded midway through the half, with left wing Richard Fussell getting a try from an Ulster mistake.
The Ospreys looked as if they would move up through the gears in the second half after Biggar touched down from another Ulster mistake, and some of their big guns made an entrance.
But an exhilarating performance from the Ulster pack, with number eight Pedrie Wannenburg outstanding, did the business.
Scorers for Ulster: S Ferris, D Cave try each; N O’Connor con, 5 pens.
Scorers for Ospreys: R Fussell try; D Biggar try, 2 cons, 4 pens.
ULSTER: A D’Arcy; T Seymour, D Cave, I Whitten, D McIlwaine; N O’Connor, P Marshall; B Young, R Best, capt, D Fitzpatrick, T Barker, J Muller, S Ferris, W Faloon, P Wannenburg.
Replacements: N Brady for Best (49), T Court for Young (40), P McAllister for Fitzpatrick (65), R Caldwell, R Diack for Ferris (65), P Wallace for Whitten (20).
OSPREYS: G Owen; N Walker, S Parker, A Bishop, R Fussell; D Biggar, J Nutbrown; R Bevington, M Davies, C Griffths, I Gough, I Evans, J Collins, capt, M Holah, J Thomas.
Replacements: H Bennett for Davies (60), P James Griffiths (60), D Jones for Bevington (78), J Goode, B Lewis for Holah (75), R Webb for Nutbrown (78), L Byrne for Owen (65), S Williams for Fussell (57).
Referee: Peter Allen (SRU).
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