PRO12 RUGBY: Ulster secure bonus point win at Cardiff
CARDIFF BLUES 22 ULSTER 35
Ulster secured a bonus point victory as they returned to Guinness PRO12 action with an impressive display against Cardiff Blues.
Ruan Pienaar gave an almost faultness display controlling and dictating the game throughout as Ulster crossed for five tires against a Cardiff side who failed to make the most of their opportunities.
Having lost three straight league games, Ulster were despereate for a win and man of the match Pineaar played a huge part in the five-try victory.
Steve Shingler gave the Blues a 3-0 lead after five minutes, but from there on it was one way traffic.
Ulster had several probing runs from Ruan Pienaar and Luke Marshall before the opening try came two minutes after Blues fullback Blaine Scully was sin-binned.
Fullback Charles Piutau crossed after some nice hands from Pienaar and Brett Herron, Pienaar converting and he doubled the lead to 14-0 on 28 minutes after Stuart McCloskey had crashed over for a try.
Four minutes from the break Ulster grabbed a third try, Kyle McCall doing well to pounced on a loose ball after another piece of lovely play from the impressive Pienaar, who added the extras.
Just before the break Cardiff threw themselves a lifeline with an unconverted try from Kristian Dacey,
Ulster lost Ireland international Iain Henderson to the sin-bin for a high tackle minutes into the second half but the Blues spurned three straight opporunities to add to the scoreboard which remained at 21-8 after the 10-minute penalty.
With Ulster’s discipline beginning to let them down Luke Marshall found himself on the wrong side of the referee and the visitors were down to 14 men again with 22 minutes on the clock.
But it was Ulster who scored, their bonus point securing fourth try going to Chris Henry, making his first appearance of the season following injury.
Pienaar made it four from four to take Ulster out to 28-8 on the hour mark.
A raft of changes in the Ulster line-up as the bench was close to emptied left them looking all at sea and the Blues exposed it to the full with converted tries from Willis Halaholo and Alex Cuthbert which brought them to within six points.
But Sean Reidy charged down Nicky Robinson’s attempted clerance and Ulster replacement Louis Ludik, with virtually his first touch of the game, pounced on the loose ball. Pienaar converted.
Pienaar blotted his copybook with a penalty miss as the clock turned red.