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Ulster score bonus-point win in 12-try epic against Southern Kings

Hooker John Andrew scored two tries in an entertaining Pro14 clash.

Kieran Treadwell and Matty Rea: Ulster left Port Elizabeth with bonus point.
Kieran Treadwell and Matty Rea: Ulster left Port Elizabeth with bonus point.
Image: Deryck Foster/INPHO

Southern Kings 36

Ulster Rugby 43

Adam McKendry reports from the Isaac Wolfson Stadium

ULSTER AND THE Southern Kings shared 12 tries in a high-scoring Guinness Pro14 clash in Port Elizabeth, with the visitors emerging as 43-36 winners.

The lead changed hands repeatedly in the final 20 minutes as the two sides scored five tries between them in a thoroughly entertaining finish as Ulster returned to winning ways with a bonus point.

Les Kiss had made 10 changes for the game at Isaac Wolfson Stadium, and the visitors had to compete with unfamiliar high temperatures and also a strong wind blowing across the pitch.

It was Ulster who were forced to play into the prevailing wind in the first half, but they didn’t help themselves either as Darren Cave knocked on in the 22 after all of a minute, pinning them back.

The mercurial Kings made them pay, hammering away at the line relentlessly until finally centre Berton Klaasen spun away from his man and slammed the ball down.

Three minutes later they had their second, Andy Warwick this time giving away a needless penalty for offside to give the hosts field position, and young out-half Oliver Zono stabbed the ball through for Yaw Penxe to cross.

It could have been even worse for Ulster as the South Africans spurned two more good chances as Michael Makase dropped the ball with the line gaping and then Penxe did the same with an overlap moments later.

Instead it was Ulster who scored next, and what a try it was. A quick move under their own posts by Christian Lealiifano and Cave set Charles Piutau away and, after the ball went through a few sets of hands, it was Sean Reidy who finished off the length-of-the-pitch effort in the corner.

Zono extended the Kings’ lead with a 26th-minute penalty before the tourists notched their second of the game, setting a robust driving maul that John Andrew steered over the line.

Two minutes after that, Les Kiss’s men should have taken the lead, but instead they fell further behind. Darren Cave burst through a tackle, however with John Cooney and Kieran Treadwell in support, he picked the wrong option and was intercepted by the final defender Alshaun Bock.

The speedy winger then hammered the ball down the pitch and raced onto his own kick, narrowly beating the covering Piutau to the ball and getting the fingertip touchdown.

Back came Ulster though, and after some strong driving at the line they were rewarded with a yellow card just before the interval, the busy Penxe deliberately knocking the ball on as the Irishmen went wide.

However they couldn’t make the advantage count as the South Africans held out strong against the extra man, and the visitors also had to watch tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst hobble off.

Despite that, Ulster proceeded to dominate the opening 10 minutes of the second half and came away with two tries that levelled the scores.

Their third, and Andrew’s second, was a carbon copy of his first as the pack got the rumble on at another maul, although it did take them several attempts to do so.

But the bonus-point try was another great bit of handling as four minutes later, Piutau set Andrew Trimble free down the wing and his pass inside found Louis Ludik who set Cooney over for the seven-pointer.

Both Reidy and Matty Rea had bursts through that promised to yield more for Ulster, but again it was an error from the visitors that put the hosts back in front against the run of play.

On the hard surface and with the wind behind, Piutau kicked dead from inside his own 22 and with the field position, the offensively impressive Kings capitalised, Klaasen going over for his second from close range.

The tries kept flowing, and Ulster retook the lead with two more of their own, first Trimble going over from an excellent strike move before Clive Ross thundered over following a break by Kieran Treadwell.

But the Kings struck back and levelled, Penxe getting his second of the game after the hosts did a great job of turning their visitors over at the restart and picking a great line through the defence.

However, the key score came from Robbie Diack five minutes from time, Piutau doing all the hard work by breaking two tackles down the wing and then offloading to the lock who managed to bash his way over to secure a thrilling win in South Africa.

Kings scorers:
Tries: Berton Klaasen [2], Yaw Penxe [2], Michael Makase

Conversions: Oliver Zono [3 from 4], Kurt Coleman [1 from 1]

Penalties: Oliver Zono [1 from 1]

Ulster scorers:

Tries: Sean Reidy, John Andrew [2], John Cooney, Andrew Trimble, Clive Ross, Robbie Diack

Conversions: John Cooney [2 from 5], Christian Lealiifano [2 from 2]

SOUTHERN KINGS: Yaw Penxe; Michael Makase, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu (Jarryd Sage 60′), Alshaun Bock; Oliver Zono (Kurt Coleman 72′), Rudi van Rooyen (Rowan Gouws 21′); Schalk Ferreira (Mzamo Majola 70′), Stephan Coetzee (Tango Balekile 60′), Rossouw de Klerk (Martin Dreyer 58′); Stephan Greeff (Lindokuhle Welemu 66′), Bobby de Wee; Andisa Ntsila, Jurie van Vuuren (Dries van Schalkwyk 66′), Ruaan Lerm.

ULSTER: Charles Piutau; Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik, Darren Cave (Tommy Bowe 60′), Andrew Trimble; Christian Leali’ifano, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick (Callum Black 60), John Andrew (Adam McBurney 75), Wiehahn Herbst (Ross Kane 36); Kieran Treadwell, Alan O’Connor; Matty Rea (Robbie Diack 63), Chris Henry (Clive Ross 54), Sean Reidy.

Referee: Quinton Immelman [RSA].

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About the author:

Adam McKendry

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