RUGBY: Defensive effort pleases Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss

Ulster defeated Connacht 16-8 in Belfast
Ulster defeated Connacht 16-8 in Belfast

Ulster put the disappointment of losing at Zebre behind them as they produced a dogged second half display to see off Connacht 16-8 at Kingspan Stadium.

The first half was a scrappy affair with Ulster going into the break trailing 5-3, but improved in the second half to take the victory.

The win took Kiss's side back to the top of Conference B with former Connacht player John Cooney kicking three penalties and the conversion of Stockdale's 56th-minute try, which denied the struggling western province a losing bonus point.

Connacht hooker Tom McCartney drove over for an unconverted score which saw them creep ahead following Cooney's earlier penalty in the first half..

But, down to 14 men when Jean Deysel was sin-binned, in the closing stages, Ulster had to dig in to hold a determined Connacht at bay.

And that left the Ulster supremo pleased especially after a poor defensive display in Italy in the previous week.

Kiss said: “An interpro challenges you in a different way, there is a lot more at stake.

“It will always be tough and you have to tough out every minute. We did that up to the last minute of the game.

“A score (from Connacht late on) wouldn’t have changed it but it was nice not to concede.

“We expected a little bit of mess in the game and a bit of stop-start. I think the scrum was interesting the way it was managed and it probably threw both teams off a bit and it became a bit scrappy at times.

“We expected this would be a tough game that may have had not a lot of flow to it.

“It was important to win because Europe is there (next) week and because of where we are in the Conference.

“But for us it was important for us to grow certain parts of the game.

“As a coaching group we feel we saw enough good things again in terms of what we’re trying to do with our game.”

Ulster will need to be better again for the visit of Wasps on Friday, October 13, as the focus switches to European Champions Cup for the Province.