Planet Rugby

Ulster continue upward trend

28th November 2008 22:17

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Ulster flexed their Magners League muscles once more on Friday, laying waste to Connacht 53-13 at Ravenhill.

Man of the match Ian Humphreys led the way with 18 points from six conversions and two penalties, landing eight kicks from nine attempts.

After leading 20-10 at half-time, the home side blitzed Connacht with five unanswered tries in a dazzling second-half performance in which Humphreys played a central role.

Scotland international Simon Danielli, on his competitive comeback, crossed for a brace of tries while Stephen Ferris, Timosi Nagusa, Mark McCrea, Darren Cave and Bryn Cunningham all crossed.

The game began on a downbeat note when, less than a minute after kick-off, Ireland international Paddy Wallace was knocked out and subsequently carried off the field for treatment.

It did not put Ulster off their stride though and Humphreys opened his account with a seventh-minute penalty after Wallace's replacement, Paul Steinmetz, was taken out without the ball.

Four minutes later Ulster extended their lead when Connacht made a mess of a loose ball and Ferris pounced to run in for a soft score which Humphreys converted.

Ian Keatley then pulled a penalty back for the visitors, but Ulster rapidly responded.

A Humphreys bomb saw Keatley firstly fumble and then get himself isolated and hit by Steinmetz and Cave.

From quick turnover ball Ferris put Nagusa into space and the Fijian international made the line. Humphreys converted from the touchline to put Ulster 17-3 ahead.

But Connacht were not out of it yet and, after a Keatley penalty in the 21st minute

came off the upright, winger Fionn Carr crossed in the left corner after Connacht won turnover ball following a mix-up between Cunningham and Nagusa.

Humphreys' second penalty on the stroke of half-time ensured Ulster ended the half 20-10 in front.

A second penalty from Keatley, three minutes after the resumption, brought Connacht within a converted score but, once again, Ulster responded positively.

From a lineout Nagusa's replacement Danielli came in on a diagonal run which Connacht could not contain.

Humphreys added the conversion and the bonus point duly arrived three minutes later when winger McCrea crashed over after Ulster moved the ball wide from a scrum.

Connacht's resistance crumbled and Ulster ran in three more tries, a second from Danielli and one each from Cave and Cunningham.

The scorers:

For Ulster:

Tries: Ferris, Nagusa, Danielli 2, McCrea, Cave, Cunningham

Cons: Humphreys 6

Pens: Humphreys 2

For Connacht:

Try: Carr

Con: Keatley

Pens: Keatley 2

Ulster: 15 Bryn Cunningham, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Mark McCrea, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 David Pollock, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Justin Fitzpatrick.

Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Tom Court, 18 Matt McCullough, 19 Kieron Dawson, 20 Isaac Boss, 21 Paul Steinmetz, 22 Simon Danielli.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (c), 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Mel Deane, 12 Keith Matthews, 11 Troy Nathan, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 Colm Rigney, 7 Jonny O'Connor, 6 Ray Ofisa, 5 Andrew Farley, 4 Michael McCarthy, 3 Robbie Morris, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.

Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Andrew Browne, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Kieran Campbell, 21 Tom Donnelly, 22 John Hearty.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Touch judges: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Trevor Collins (Ireland)

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