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Ulster continue push for play-off spot with bonus-point victory at Dragons

In horrendous conditions, the northern province ran in four tries in what was a comfortable but crucial win.

Ulster celebrate John Cooney's try.
Ulster celebrate John Cooney's try.
Image: Alex Davidson/INPHO

Dragons 15

Ulster 28

Alex Bywater reports from Rodney Parade

ULSTER CONTINUED THEIR push for the Guinness Pro14 play-off spots with a vital 28-15 bonus-point victory over the Dragons.

Horrible conditions and a poor Rodney Parade surface meant the game won’t live long in the memory in terms of entertainment, but Dan McFarland’s side still scored four tries.

Ulster – remarkably – lost three men to yellow cards at various stages, but they were comfortable winners as the impressive Jordi Murphy, Marty Moore and John Cooney all scored tries before a crucial late effort from skipper Alan O’Connor.

A penalty score and a Taine Basham try for the Dragons gave Ulster something to worry about.

John Cooney makes a break to score his sides third try John Cooney skips home for Ulster's third. Source: Alex Davidson/INPHO

Ulster ended the first half with 14 men but still 7-3 up.

Dragons lost captain Richard Hibbard in the warm-up and his stand-in as skipper Harrison Keddie to a foot injury, but they did open the scoring through Josh Lewis.

The visitors hit back as phase after phase ended with Murphy crashing over from close range and Cooney converted before Lewis missed a second penalty effort.

Flying wing Robert Baloucoune was tackled into touch by the covering Jordan Williams as Ulster pushed for a second, but Darren Cave was then yellow carded for an early tackle on Lewis.

Robert Baloucoune attempts to score but is ruled in touch Baloucoune is tackled into touch as he attempts to score. Source: Alex Davidson/INPHO

A man deficit failed to stop Ulster moving further clear on the game’s resumption with two quick scores. First Moore crashed over after taking a fine line from a Cooney pass.

Then the scrum-half turned from creator to scorer as he pounced for a third Ulster try following a poor kick inside his own 22 by Rhodri Williams of the Dragons.

Cooney added two conversions and that was the game.

The final quarter saw plenty of action.

Rob Lyttle and Louis Ludik were both sent to the sin bin for deliberate knock-ons and the Dragons were awarded a penalty try in the second of those instances.

Marty Moore scores his sides second try Marty Moore bagged Ulster's second. Source: Alex Davidson/INPHO

An automatic seven points gave the hosts some respectability, but Ulster were comfortable winners and even with 13 men on the field they were able to crash over for a bonus-point effort via O’Connor.

There was still time late on for the Dragons to grab a late consolation via Basham who was one of their few bright sparks.

Ulster

Louis Ludik
Robert Baloucoune
Darren Cave
Stuart McCloskey
Rob Lyttle
Billy Burns
John Cooney

Eric O’Sullivan
Rob Herring
Marty Moore
Alan O’Connor (Captain)
Kieran Treadwell
Sean Reidy
Jordi Murphy
Nick Timoney

Replacements
Andrew Warwick
John Andrew
Wiehahn Herbst
Ian Nagle
Matthew Rea
David Shanahan
James Hume
Peter Nelson

Dragons

Jordan Williams
Hallam Amos
Adam Warren
Jarryd Sage
Dafydd Howells
Josh Lewis
Rhodri Williams

Brok Harris
Richard Hibbard (Captain)
Lloyd Fairbrother
Joe Davies
Matthew Screech
Huw Taylor
Taine Basham
Harri Keddie

Replacements
Rhys Lawrence
Josh Reynolds
Leon Brown
Max Williams
Lennon Greggains
Tavis Knoyle
Jason Tovey
Tyler Morgan

Referee: Stuart Berry (SARU)

Scorers for Dragons:
Try: Penalty, Basham.
Pen: Lewis

Scorers for Ulster:
Tries: Murphy, Moore, Cooney, O’Connor
Cons: Cooney x3, Burns

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