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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 4 April, 2020

Lealiifano scores dramatic late try, but misses conversion, as Ulster and Dragons play out tumultuous draw

Ulster had led Bernard Jackman’s men by 12 points before Gavin Henson inspired the Dragons comeback.

Dragons 32

Ulster 32

Steffan Thomas reports from Rodney Parade

CHRISTIAN LEALIIFANO SCORED a last-minute try to salvage a 32-32 bonus point draw for Ulster at Rodney Parade.

But the Australian international quickly turned from hero to villain as he missed the ensuing conversion in front of the posts.

Can’t watch the clip above? Watch on Twitter here.

The visitors looked to have been denied at the death with Dragons winger Ashton Hewitt crossing with just two minutes remaining.

But the Ulstermen did leave with three match points scoring four tries courtesy of a brace from winger Craig Gilroy, a penalty try, a touch down from Paul Marshall and Lealifano.

However, Bernard Jackman’s side scored five tries through lock Matthew Screech, winger Hewitt, hooker Liam Belcher and fullback Angus O’Brien.

Can’t see the clip above? Watch on Twitter.

The hosts made life difficult for themselves when inside centre Jack Dixon was given a yellow card for a dangerous tip tackle on Lois Ludick.

Early on, Ulster looked set to make a gulf in quality count with Gilroy showing his pace to cross in the right-hand corner as a result of some lovely passing from John Andrew and Charles Piutau.

But Jackman’s side clawed themselves back into the game when Screech touched down following a powerful driving lineout from the home eight. Screech’s try saw a momentum shift with Dixon redeeming himself when he put Hewitt over in the corner as a result of a neat grubber kick.

Craig Gilroy scores his sides fourth try Craig Gilroy secured a bonus point, and what looked like a win, for Ulster in the 54th minute. Source: Bob Bradford/INPHO

Less Kiss’ side hit back before half time with a penalty try after the Welsh region brought down a driving lineout illegally on their own try line meaning the score was level at 15-15 at half time.

Ulster began the second period in the same fashion they started the first with Marshall dotting down in the corner, following a powerful surge by Nick Timoney.

The visitors secured the try bonus point with 20 minutes to spare when Gilroy powered over for his second.

But just when Ulster seemed to be pulling away, the Gwent region hit back with a try from Belcher who powered his way over the line after a strong Dragons maul, with Gavin Henson’s glorious break bringing about O’Brien’s try and a nail-biting finale.



Tries: Screech 19, Dixon 28, Belcher 66, O’Brien 71, Hewitt 78

Conversions: Henson 19, 72

Penalties: Henson 24


Tries: Gilroy 9, Penalty Try 32, Marshall 41, Gilroy 54, Lealifano 78

Conversions:  Lealifano 54

Penalties: Lealifano 4

Christian Lealiifano is tackled by Gavin Henson Source: Bob Bradford/INPHO

Dragons: O’Brien, Hewitt, Warren, Dixon, Rosser, Henson, Babos, Harris (Hobbs 30), Belcher, Fairbrother, J Davies, Screech (Landman 53), Wainwright (Roach 53), Griffiths, Benjamin

Ulster: Piutau, Gilroy, Bowe, McCloskey, Ludik, Lealifano, Marshall (Cooney ’52), van der Merwe (Black 54), Andrew (Best 52), Kane (Warwick 52), O’Connor, Treadwell, Jones (Henry 57), Reidy, Timoney

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