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Ulster prove too hot for Dragons as Stockdale fires once again

Dan McFarland’s side ran in four tries to secure a bonus point victory in Wales.

Stockdale makes a break in Ulster's win.
Stockdale makes a break in Ulster's win.
Image: Ryan Hiscott/INPHO

DRAGONS 22

ULSTER 26

JACOB STOCKDALE PRODUCED one mesmerising run as he proved his worth to Ireland head coach Andy Farrell in Ulster’s 26-22 win over Dragons at Principality Stadium.

Stockdale hasn’t featured in the Six Nations to date, but he is now back fit and on the evidence on show at the home of Welsh rugby, he is inching back to Test level.
Dan McFarland’s Ulster are out of contention for the Guinness PRO14 title so experimented for this trip to Cardiff with Stockdale joined in the side by a host of fringe players.
They were still too good for Dragons despite their constant ill-discipline and a bonus-point success was sealed thanks to tries from Alby Mathewson, a Stewart Moore brace, and John Andrew.

alby-mathewson-runs-in-a-try Alby Mathewson runs in a try. Source: Ryan Hiscott/INPHO

This game was played at Principality Stadium because the Dragons’ usual home surface at Rodney Parade is in an almost unplayable condition.
Dragons lost Wales and British & Irish Lions forward Ross Moriarty before kick-off and Sam Davies missed an early shot at goal, but the first 10 minutes were keenly contested.
Stockdale dropped one ball as Ulster didn’t make the most of an overlap, but the Ireland full-back made amends with a stunning individual run which started well inside his own half.
As good as Stockdale’s run was, he should never have been allowed to go nearly 50 metres without being tackled. Poor Dragons defence eventually got to him, but Mathewson was in support.
Ulster’s second came from a sensational offload from Stuart McCloskey to his centre partner Moore. McCloskey did brilliantly to free his hands out of the tackle. Michael Lowry kicked both goals.
Moore’s try clearly inspired Ulster’s attacking intent, but Stockdale was perhaps lucky to avoid a card for taking out Davies in the air even though his attempt at a high ball was blocked by Jamie Roberts.
Davies did kick a penalty just before the break to put Dragons on the board and the home side had more pressure, which resulted in Andrew being yellow carded for sacking a driving maul.
Even without their hooke, Ulster held out despite conceding 11 first-half penalties.
Dragons flanker Harrison Keddie was yellow carded at the start of the second period for killing the ball and it evened up the numbers. It was no real surprise then when Ulster’s third try arrived.
Barely seconds after coming back on the field, Andrew was driven over the line by his forwards.
The conversion was missed.
Referee Adam Jones used his television assistant to check a try for returning Dragons back-row Ollie Griffiths after he went over by the posts. The score was given and Davies improved it.
Ulster’s bonus-point effort came from a Moore intercept of a Davies pass. The Ulster back read it well and raced it clear to score. Lowry kicked the goal.
Nick Timoney was yellow carded late on allowing Rio Dyer and Jonah Holmes to grab late Dragons consolations which sealed them a losing bonus point.  

stewart-moore-runs-in-a-try Stewart Moore runs in a try for Ulster. Source: Ryan Hiscott/INPHO

Scorers  

Dragons scorers
Tries: Griffiths 55, Dyer 74, Holmes 78
Conversions: S Davies 55, Lewis 78
Penalty: S Davies 35 

Ulster scorers
Tries: Mathewson 13, Moore 20, 60, Andrew 49
Conversions: Lowry 14, 22, 61 

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Dragons: Lewis; Holmes, Owen (Tompkins 51), Roberts, Dyer; S Davies, Williams (capt) (Bertranou 60), Harris (Reynolds 60), Hibbard, Fairbrother (Jarvis 67), J Davies (Screech 51), Maksymiwn (Carter 53), Keddie, Fry (Baker 51) (Lawrence 76), Griffiths 

Ulster: Stockdale; Gilroy (McIlroy 47), Moore, McCloskey, Lyttle; Lowry (Madigan 75), Mathewson (Shanahan 62); O’Sullivan (Reid 67), Andrew (Roberts 55), Kane (Milasinovich 53), O’Connor (capt), Treadwell (Izuchukwu 62), McCann (Roberts 41-48) (Rea 57), Reidy, Timoney 

Referee: Adam Jones (WRU)
Star man: Michael Lowry (Ulster)  

About the author:

Alex Bywater

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