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Dublin: 18°C Saturday 8 May 2021

Ulster score eight tries on way to victory over Bernard Jackman's Dragons

Nick Timoney was man-of-the-match with two tries to his name.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Ulster 52

Dragons 25

Adam McKendry reports from Kingspan Stadium

ULSTER WERE IN sparkling form as they went top of Conference B in the Guinness PRO14 with a crushing 52-25 win over the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium.

Eight tries for the Ulstermen, including a brace for Man of the Match Nick Timoney, saw the hosts pick up an easy bonus point win that keeps their unbeaten start to the season alive.

Both sides featured many changes to their respective line-ups – Ulster made nine, while the Dragons an incredible 13 – and it was two sides that took to the field in Belfast with points to prove.

But it took all of three minutes for the tone of the game to be set, the returning Charles Piutau picking up a loose pass and drawing in two men before offloading to Clive Ross on the wing, with hands sending Stuart McCloskey over for the try.

Despite Dorian Jones getting the visitors off the mark with a 7th minute penalty, five minutes later Ulster had their second as Peter Nelson used Piutau inside him to throw a dummy, and his pace sent him through a gap and over.

Jones added another penalty for the visitors, keeping their tally ticking over, but in the 20th minute the hosts made their forward dominance known.

From a lineout, Ulster powered a maul over the line that left referee Dan Jones no option but to award a penalty try when it was eventually sacked, and Lloyd Fairbrother saw yellow.

With the extra man, Ulster made their advantage count. Nick Timoney powered over at the line for the bonus point try in the 26th minute before Wiehahn Herbst, on as a blood sub, did the same for the fifth on the half hour.

Determined not to be counted out yet, the Dragons struck back five minutes before the break as Rhys Buckley went over at a maul, leaving the scoreline at 33-13 at the break.

But after the interval the game was quickly ended as a contest, if it wasn’t already, as Jacob Stockdale benefitted from a mistake from Thretton Palamo, the centre sliding past the ball in his own in goal area, and the winger dotted down for his third try in as many games.

Timoney quickly followed him over for the second time, handing off a weak Dragons tackle and showing impressive pace to get past Carl Meyer and score Ulster’s seventh.

For all of their easy on the eye attack play, the hosts still looked defensively frail and substitute scrum half Dane Blacker made them pay in the 57th minute, picking a gap in the scrambling Ulster defence and going through for their second.

Ironically the loudest roar of the night came after Angus O’Brien notched the conversion, although not for the kick, but for the return of Ulster’s British and Irish Lion Iain Henderson, introduced from the bench.

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Anything the Dragons’ subs could do, Ulster’s could do as well, Dave Shanahan taking a leaf from Paul Marshall’s playbook and taking a tap penalty quickly, dancing his way over for what proved to be Ulster’s final score just after the hour.

Stockdale thought he had his second of his night when he kicked through and finished smartly, only for the TMO to bring it back for a knock on, while the Dragons also had the video official rule one out for them after a forward pass.

But it would be the visitors who scored last, Shanahan missing a tackle on Blacker at the back of a scrum with the Welshman racing away and feeding Will Talbot-Davies to take it the rest of the way for a game-ending 80m score.

There was still time for Rodney Ah You to be sin binned in the final few seconds, but ultimately the Dragons couldn’t find the bonus point try that they probably didn’t deserve.

Ulster scorers:Tries: McCloskey, Nelson, Penalty, Timoney (2), Herbst, Stockdale, Shanahan

Cons: Nelson (4 from 6), Penalty, Herron (1 from 1)

Dragons scorers:

Tries: Buckley, Blacker, Talbot-Davies

Cons: Jones (1 from 1), O’Brien (1 from 2)

Pens: Jones (2 from 2)

ULSTER: Charles Piutau (Rob Lyttle 50); Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave (Brett Herron 52), Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Peter Nelson, Paul Marshall (Dave Shanahan 55); Kyle McCall (Andy Warwick 40), Rob Herring (John Andrew 50), Rodney Ah You (Wiehahn Herbst 24-31); Robbie Diack, Alan O’Connor (Iain Henderson 58); Clive Ross (Matty Rea 54), Chris Henry, Nick Timoney.

Yellow card: Rodney Ah You (80’)

DRAGONS: Carl Meyer; Adam Hughes (Will Talbot-Davies 46), Thretton Palamo, Pat Howard, George Gasson; Dorian Jones (Angus O’Brien 40), Owain Leonard (Dane Blacker 50); Thomas Davies (Phil Price 50), Gerard Ellis (Rhys Buckley 24), Lloyd Fairbrother; Matthew Screech, Rynard Landman (Joe Davies 67); Max Williams, Ollie Griffiths, Robson Blake (Lennon Greggains 25).

Replacement not used: Brok Harris.

Yellow card: Lloyd Fairbrother (21’)

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