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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Ulster's John Andrew scores a try.
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Two-try Ulster keep Dragons scoreless to secure victory in horrible conditions
Dan McFarland’s side were dominant throughout the clash at Rodney Parade.

Dragons 0
Ulster 12

Steffan Thomas reports at Rodney Parade

DAN MCFARLAND’S SIDE were dominant throughout this contest, with their pack of forwards winning the collisions throughout. Scrum-half Nathan Doak was the star man with his tactical kicking, and game management playing a crucial part in ensuring Ulster left south Wales with four points in the bag.

The swirling wind and rain turned meant both sides made plenty of handling errors, but Ulster’s power up-front meant they held the upper hand. Dean Ryan’s side were able to apply some pressure early doors, but Ulster’s defence held firm.

The visitors thought they had scored when Doak crossed the line, but the television match official concluded that Sam Davies’ hand was underneath the ball. By now Ulster’s pack were in the ascendancy, and the made their hosts pay at the stroke of half time.

James Hume exploited a dog legged Dragons defence to race into their 22 before sending Doak charging towards the line. The number nine was brough down by Josh Lewis, but the ball was quickly recycled for Marcus Rea to touch down for their opening try which gave the visitors a narrow 5-0 lead at the interval.

After the break Ulster’s pack continued to dominate with their scrum pushing the Dragons backwards at a rate of knots.

Ben Moxham crossed at the corner, but his foot was in touch. However, they didn’t have to wait long until they were celebrating a try for real as John Andrew powered his way over the line courtesy of a well-worked driving lineout. Doak added the extras with a sensational touchline conversion into the swirling wind.

To their credit the Dragons refused to throw in the towel, enjoyed a period of pressure with No 8 Dan Baker making headway with his carries. But they lacked a cutting edge behind the scrum, while out-half Davies also missed a penalty from right in front of the posts.

The Dragons huffed and puffed but couldn’t get enough go forward to make any real dents in the Ulster defence. Billy Burns was extremely effective in the final quarter of the game with his tactical kicking ensuring Ulster stayed in control of proceedings.

Things got a lot more difficult for the Dragons when replacement prop Mesake Doge received a yellow card for a reckless shoulder charge. Ian Madigan’s late penalty from the halfway line hit the posts, but it didn’t matter as the victory was already in Ulster’s bag.

Dragons: J Lewis; J Holmes (W Talbot-Davies 65), A Warren, A Owen, R Dyer; S Davies, G Bertranou (R Williams 49); G Bateman (A Seiuli 57), T Davies (E Dee 49), C Coleman (M Doge 49), J Davies (H Taylor 33), J Maksymiw, H Keddie, O Griffiths, D Baker (G Young 72).

Replacements not used: I Davies,

Ulster: R Lyttle, R Baloucoune, J Hume, S McCloskey (S Moore 74), B Moxham; B Burns (I Madigan 70), N Doak; A Warwick (E O’Sullivan 50), J Andrew (B Roberts 50), T O’Toole (M Moore 48), K Treadwell, S Carter (C Izuchukwu 60), D McCann (M Rea 60), M Rea, N Timoney.

Replacements not used: D Shanahan,

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)

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Ulster scorers

Tries: M Rea 39, J Andrew 46

Conversions: N Doak 48

Penalties:

Attendance: 3,892

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