Ulster boosted their chances of making the RaboDirect PRO12 knockouts with a four-try 30-12 victory over the Dragons at Ravenhill.
Ulster boosted their chances of making the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs with a four-try 30-12 victory over the Dragons at Ravenhill on Friday.
It was the visitors who started the better, as they attacked Ulster from the very first whistle. Indeed they had the lead after seven minutes, Jason Tovey slotting over the game's first penalty.
Ulster responded well though, and although Ruan Pienaar missed a penalty two minutes later, the hosts were looking the most likely to score.
That duly came after a quarter of an hour, when number eight Robbie Diack dived over the try-line to put the Northern Irish side two points ahead.
The Dragons weren't looking as threatening as in the early stages, and found themselves further behind just three minutes later, Pienaar with the try to make up for his previous penalty and conversion misses. He also made no mistake with the extras to leave Ulster in the driving seat.
As the half wore on, the contest was very much a tight affair with both sides enjoying their fair share of possession. The away side reduced their arrears to three points after half hour, with Tovey with two further penalties for them, but approaching half time, Pienaar made it a six-point game again, adding a place kick himself to leave it 15-9 at half time.
The Dragons again started the half positively, Tovey adding his fourth penalty of the contest to keep the Welsh side in touch. However, that score was wiped out just a minute later, as Ulster winger Craig Gilroy evaded the Dragons' defence to land the host's third try.
It was very much nip and tuck going into the closing stages, as both sides looked to win bonus winning and losing points respectively, but it was Ulster who put the game beyond the Dragons in the last ten minutes, with Pienaar adding another penalty, before Stefan Terblanche secured the five, Pienaar adding the conversion to round off an impressive win.
Tries: Diack, Pienaar, Gilroy, Terblanche
Con: Pienaar 2
Pen: Pienaar 2
Pen: Tovey 4
Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Stefan Terblanche, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Mike McComish, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 John Afoa (capt), 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Tim Barker, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Nevin Spence, 23 Simon Danielli.
Dragons: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Jamie Smith, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Ashley Smith (capt), 11 Aled Brew, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Gavin Thomas, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Nathan Williams.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Dan Way, 19 Hugo Ellis, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Joe Bedford, 22 Andy Tuilagi, 23 Lewis Robling.
Referee: Carlo Damasco (Italy)