Guinness Pro12: Ulster 18 Connacht 10

Ulster's Rory Best  and Connacht's Matt Healy during Friday night's Guinness PRO 12 match at the Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park.
 Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Ulster's Rory Best and Connacht's Matt Healy during Friday night's Guinness PRO 12 match at the Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye

Ulster returned to the top four in the table with a hard fought win over Connacht at the Kingspan Stadium.

Paddy Jackson opened the scoring with a penalty and the Ireland out half doubled the home side’s advantage from in front of the posts.

Skipper Rory Best got the games opening try, Ulster kicked a penalty to the corner and from the lineout they executed a prefect catch and drive with the pack propelling the Irish hooker over but Jackson failed to convert.

Connacht reduced Ulster’s lead to 11-3 at half time when Shane O’Leary landed a penalty with the final kick of the first 40 minutes.

Ulster got their second try on 44 minutes when Jackson put Payne clear, the full back offloaded out of the tackle to put Gilroy over in the corner with Jackson converting.

Andrew Trimble was sin binned on 48 minutes and Connacht to advantage seven minutes later when scrum half Caolin Blade powered over and O’Leary converted.

Connacht had O’Leary and Sean O’Brein sin binned in the last 12 minutes but Ulster couldn’t score.

Ulster

J Payne, A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar, C Black, R Best, R Lutton; P Browne, F van der Merwe; I Henderson, C Henry, R Wilson

Replacements: R Herring for Henderson 77 mins, K McCall for Black 54 mins, B Ross for Lutton, R Diack for Browne 57 mins, S Reidy for Henry 54 mins, P Marshall for Pienaar 65 mins, S Olding for McCloskey, D Cave for L Marshall 62 mins

Connacht

R Henshaw, N Adeolokun, B Aki, P Robb, M Healy, S O’Leary, J Cooney, D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You; A Browne, A Muldowney; J Muldoon, J Connolly, E McKeon

Replacements: D Heffernan for McCartney 70 mins, R Loughney for Buckley 70 mins, F Bealham for Ah You 45 mins, U Dillane for Browne 45 mins, S O’Brien for J Connolly, C Blade for Cooney 54 mins, C Brennan, D Poolman for Adeolokun 55 mins

Ref D Phillips (IRFU)