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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

McCloskey double caps bonus point win for Ulster over Dragons

Will Addison was on form again to help Dan McFarland’s men grab their first five-point success of the season.

McCloskey grounds a try with debutant Robert Baloucoune on hand to congratulate.
McCloskey grounds a try with debutant Robert Baloucoune on hand to congratulate.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ulster 36

Dragons 18

Adam McKendry reports from Kingspan Stadium

IT WASN’T WHOLLY convincing, but Ulster bagged their first bonus point win of the season as they downed the Dragons on their return to Kingspan Stadium.

A brace from Stuart McCloskey, and a piece of individual brilliance from Will Addison, headlined the game, which won’t live long in the memory and saw Ulster struggle to dominate an inferior side.

After Jonny McPhillips kicked Ulster into the lead with an early penalty, their first try quickly followed as the fly-half picked up a loose ball and made the most of the confusion to ghost through a gap before sending over winger Henry Speight for the score.

Veteran fly-half Jason Tovey responded for the visitors with a penalty to get them off the mark before a piece of individual brilliance from Will Addison handed Ulster their second score midway through the half.

The centre used his pace to go around his man in the midfield before leaving Jordan Williams in knots with a sublime bit of footwork, selling Tovey for an outrageous dummy and offloading to David Shanahan for the scrum-half to dot down.

Iain Henderson is tackled by Jarryd Sage A one-booted Iain Henderson charges at the Dragons. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A phenomenal bit of skill from Ireland’s latest call-up but, while Ulster were doing all the right things at one end, they couldn’t keep their visitors quiet at the other. On the half hour mark, Jarryd Sage carved through the weak Ulster defence and, a few phases later, flanker Huw Taylor thundered over.

Tovey then reduced the gap again with a second penalty, but Ulster headed in at the break in the ascendancy with their third try, a rampaging carry from Iain Henderson taking them into the 22 and an excellent step inside from Michael Lowry putting the full-back over.

It took nine minutes of the second half for them to secure the bonus point, some prolonged pressure on the Dragons line forcing the overlap out wide, allowing Stuart McCloskey to easily wander over for the fourth try.

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Michael Lowry comes off injured Lowry heads for the treatment room. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

But the hosts were to suffer a massive blow soon after when promising young full-back Lowry had to be helped off and, but for a TMO review on the hour mark, they would have conceded again only for the video review to spot a knock-on in the build-up.

The reprieve lasted all of a minute as the Dragons struck off first phase ball from a scrum, centre Jarryd Sage crashing into Addison and his momentum carried them both over the line, with the Dragons man getting the ball down.

Try as they might, the Dragons couldn’t find another try to make it interesting through a combination of better Ulster defence and their own mistakes, and when Kieran Treadwell spun away from a tackle and fed McCloskey after charging upfield, the centre made sure the result was secure by taking it the rest of the way.



Tries: Speight, Shanahan, Lowry, McCloskey (2)
Cons: McPhillips (4)
Pen: McPhillips


Tries: Taylor, Sage
Con: Tovey
Pens: Tovey (2)

ULSTER RUGBY: Michael Lowry (Peter Nelson 57), Robert Baloucoune, Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey, Henry Speight (Angus Kernohan 79), Jonny McPhillips, David Shanahan (Johnny Stewart 64); (1-8) Eric O’Sullivan (Andrew Warwick 50), Rory Best (Rob Herring 50), Marty Moore (Tom O’Toole 57), Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (Alan O’Connor 59), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee (Greg Jones 73).

DRAGONS:  Jordan Williams, Dafydd Howells (Zane Kirchner 47), Adam Warren, Jarryd Sage (Jack Dixon 71), Will Talbot-Davies, Jason Tovey, Rhodri Williams (Tavis Knoyle 63); (1-8) Brok Harris (Ryan Bevington 51), Richard Hibbard, Lloyd Fairbrother (Aaron Jarvis 51), Lewis Evans, Matthew Screech, Huw Taylor (Taine Basham 53), Nic Cudd, Harrison Keddie.

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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