Ulster cruise past Blues

Date published: September 20 2014

Ulster outscored Cardiff Blues two tries to none to claim a 26-9 victory in the Pro12 at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

Ulster outscored Cardiff Blues two tries to none to claim a 26-9 victory in the Pro12 at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.

An intercept try from Ian Humphreys, and an earlier touch down from Ireland lock Dan Tuohy, helped an efficient Ulster overcome a tenacious Blues side.

The visitors, who had a slender lead at half time, were also helped by the prolific boot of fly-half Paddy Jackson. Cardiff contributed plenty to a lively game, with full-back Rhys Patchell landing three penalties, but just weren't as clinical as their opponents on the night.

The game started brightly, with both teams displaying a willingness to spin the ball wide. It was Ulster, though, that landed the first points of the evening when Jackson slotted a seven minute penalty to earn his side a 0-3 cushion.

The Irish side had the better of the opening exchanges it has to be said, but lacked a cutting edge.

Cardiff tried hard to make inroads of their own through big forwards like Josh Navidi, but struggled to inject much continuity into their attacking game.

As much as both sides tried to enliven the contest, the first quarter was characterised by stalemate. But Cardiff were beginning to find a bit of rhythm, and Patchell successfully restored parity on 21 minutes to level the game at 3-3.

Defences were undoubtedly in the ascendancy, but you couldn't deny the ambition of the teams. By the tail end of the half, Ulster were starting to come under some pressure, with new Blues' recruit Adam Jones making himself a nuisance at scrum time.

And it was a retreating Ulster scrum on 27 minutes that allowed Cardiff another penalty opportunity. Patchell made no mistake with the resulting kick to edge his side into a 6-3 lead.

But their advantage was short lived, as Jackson levelled the game with a long distance penalty two minutes later. And the Irish international fly-half restored Ulster's lead on 33 minutes, when he calmly kicked a superb penalty to make it 6-9 to the Irishmen.

But the visitors failed to control the ensuing restart. Cardiff successfully hounded Tommy Bowe, and then Jackson, and earned another penalty for Patchell.

The Blues' pivot again did the needful to bring it back to 9-9. It was excellent work by the hosts, but Ulster will be aggravated by their indiscipline.

The contest was certainly nip and tuck, but was lacking in fluency and spectacle. It was Ulster who ended the half more content, though, as Jackson nailed another kick to re-establish their lead.

The second half started with Ulster on the rampage, and Jackson had a decent chance to extend their lead on 47 minutes, but sliced his kick.

The visitors got on the scoreboard on 51 minutes, however, when big lock Tuohy burst through a gaping hole in the Blues' defence to score. Jackson converted to give his side a comfortable 9-19 lead.

Cardiff were doggedly hanging in the game, but Ulster were now quite dominant. The Irishmen were in control of the contest at this stage, but just couldn't put the Blues away.

In fairness to the hosts, they continued to threaten the Ulster rear guard, with abrasive flanker Josh Turnbull leading the charge.

But the Belfast side absorbed the pressure well, and used their rolling maul to superb effect. And the stubborn resistance of the Blues was finally killed off in emphatic fashion on 75 minutes when Humphreys intercepted in the home 22, and casually jogged over the line.

The replacement kicker successfully converted his score, and there was no way back for the Welshmen as Ulster deservedly took the points.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blue:
Pens: Patchell

For Ulster:
Tries: Tuohy, Humphreys
Cons: Jackson, Humphreys
Pens: Jackson 4

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Adam Thomas, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Richard Smith, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Taufa'ao Filise, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Cory Allen, 23 Geraint Walsh.

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Andrew Warwick.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Bronson Ross, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Craig Gilroy.

Venue: Cardiff Arms Park
Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU, 61st competition game)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Jon Mason (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Denis Jones (WRU)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (WRU)

By Rory McGimpsey