Ulster moved up to fourth in the Guinness PRO12 standings after they battled past Connacht 13-10 in poor weather conditions at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.
The only try of the first-half came via Craig Gilroy, whose spectacular solo try lit up Ravenhill, as he beat a hatful of opposition defenders to go over.
And the only try of the second-half came from Aly Muldowney, who struck with just over ten minutes left to narrow proceedings.
It was a good opening ten minutes for Connacht, but Ulster began to turn the screw, and found themselves almost camped inside the opposition 22, winning a five metre scrum in front of the posts only to concede a penalty.
Connacht got the game’s first points thanks to a Jack Carty penalty three minutes in, but that was their only point scoring highlight of the opening half.
It took Paddy Jackson two efforts to get his side level, but the Irish kicker did finally manage it thirteen minutes in, before a wonderful try lit up the Kingspan Stadium. It came thanks to Gilroy of Ulster, who capitalised on his side’s maul to break free on the visiting defence.
Faced with a row of bodies, he escaped six challenges (and managed to pirouette twice) before going over the line in a quite spectacular effort from the Irish international. Jackson made no mistake from the conversion as Ulster built a 10-3 lead.
Jackson missed a further effort, whilst Connacht looked to get themselves back into the game as the half wore on. Their best effort came moments before the half-time whistle, as they pressed towards the corner, only to find themselves penalised as the home side went in seven points to the good at the break.
David McSharry almost got the visitors first try of the evening, as he bore down on a deep kick. However, after he kicked the ball forwards, he was narrowly pipped to it by Louis Ludik, whose sliding effort stopped McSharry’s progress.
It was a good opening ten minutes for Connacht, but Ulster began to turn the screw, and were almost camped inside the opposition 22, having a five metre scrum in front of the posts only to concede a penalty.
Jackson got the first points of the half 23 minutes into it via a straightforward penalty in front of the posts.
However, the first try of the second period came courtesy of Muldowney, who ensured a nervy final twelve minutes. He went over the line following a five metre line-out, as he and his side drove over the line, with Carty converting to reduce the lead to just three points.
But despite their best efforts, Connacht weren’t able to turn the game around and were left feeling no doubt a little disappointed with the 13-10 defeat.
For Ulster :
Pen: Jackson 2
Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Peter Nelson, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Clive Ross, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Wiahahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Alan O’Connor, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Mike Allen.
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 John Cooney, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon (capt), 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Ronan Loughney.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Mils Muliaina.
Referee: John Lacey
Assistant Referees: Dudley Phillips, Nigel Correll
TMO: Brian McNeice