Ulster 52 Dragons 25: Ballymena’s Nick Timoney marked his first Ulster start with a double helping as the home side charged virtually unopposed to the top of Conference B following a comprehensive eight-try drubbing of a dreadful Dragons outfit at the Kingspan Stadium last night.
The big number eight scored a try in each half, and showed some of that blistering Ireland Sevens’ pace for his 48th minute effort. But to be honest it was men against boys, particularly in the first half. Credit to Ulster who did what they had to do in a mismatch. They took their chances, scored five times in that period through Stuart McCloskey, Peter Nelson, Timoney and Wiehahn Herbst plus a penalty try. The Dragons could only muster a couple penalties by fly-half Dorian Jones, who also converted a try by replacement hooker Rhys Buckley as Ulster led 33-13 at the break.
The second half didn’t improve for the Dragons as mistake followed mistake, and missed tackle followed missed tackle with tries from Jacob Stockdale, Timoney again and Shanahan adding to the their embarrassment.
It had taken Ulster only two minutes to get the scoreboard ticking along with the opening try. Charles Piutau picked up a loose pass from Paul Marshall on the halfway line, and the All Black danced free, and slick hands and passing saw skipper Chris Henry put Stuart McCloskey in.
Ulster, who were putting in some thumping tackles whenever the Dragons threatened, which was a rare sight, showed great patience in the build-up to their second try in the 12th minute as a tired Dragons defence allowed Nelson to dance through at the posts. A third soon followed as a close-in line-out drive was deemed to have been pulled down by Dragons prop Lloyd Fairbrother and a penalty try and yellow card was the reward.
The bonus point was not long in following, with Timoney crashing over thanks initially to the dancing feet and power of Piutau. Herbst was on as a replacement for Rodney Ah You for only five minutes when he scored try number five before departing again in the 30th minute.
In the second half Ulster picked off easy tries. Yes, top of the league, but there will be much sterner tests ahead for Ulster.
Scorers for Ulster:
(Tries: McCloskey, Nelson, penalty try (+con), Timoney 2, Herbst, Stockdale, Shanahan; Cons: Nelson 5, Herron)
(Tries: Buckley, Blacker, Talbot-Davies; Cons: Jones 2; Pens: Jones 2 )
C Piutau (Lyttle, 50); T Bowe, D Cave (Herron, 52), S McCloskey, J Stockdale; P Nelson, P Marshall (Shanahan, 55); K McCall (Warwick, , R Herring, R Ah You (Herbst, 24-29); R Diack, A O’Connor (Henderson, 58); C Ross (Rea, 53), C Henry (capt), N Timoney.
C Meyer; A Hughes (Talbot-Davis, 46), T Palamo, P Howard, G Gasson; D Jones, O Leonard (Blacker, 49); T Davies (Price, 49), G Ellis, L Fairbrother; M Screech, R Landman (Davies, 67); M Williams, O Griffiths (capt), R Blake (Greggains, 25).
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