Rampant Ulster see off Dragons to continue perfect PRO14 campaign start
Ulster made it three out of three wins in the PRO14 win a comprehensive win over the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium.
Dan McFarland’s side outscored the Welsh region six tries to two, picking up a second try bonus point in three outings and are a point behind Leinster at the top of Conference A.
It took Ulster just four and a half minutes to open the scoring. The home side stole a lineout, Ian Madigan made break, Eric O’Sullivan and John Cooney combined to put Stewart Moore clear, the centre was stopped short but Marcell Coetzee powered over from the base of a ruck for his third try in as many games. Cooney converted the extras.
Dragons outhalf Sam Davies landed a 10th minute penalty after Ulster were punished at the breakdown.
O’Sullivan grabbed Ulster’s second try on 14 minutes. From a lineout maul hooker John Andrews broke off and charged for the Dragons line, the ball was quickly recycled and the prop squeezed under the posts with Cooney again adding the extras.
Sean Reidy was next to cross for the home team on 27 minutes. Jordi Murphy, Rob Lyttle and Alan O’Connor had probing runs before the flanker barged over from close range. Cooney was again on target with the conversion.
The bonus point try came four minutes later as Moore and Murphy punched holes in the Dragons defence, the ball was then moved wide for winger Louis Ludik to go over in the corner. Cooney converted.
Ludik grabbed another try in the final minute of the first half. Ulster launched a strike move off a lineout, Matt Faddes carried deep into the ‘22 his pass hit a defender before ricocheting off Ludik’s face, but the South African was able to ground the ball.
Cooney’s conversion gave Ulster a 35-3 lead at the interval.
Faddes was sin binned on 51 minutes for an illegal tackle on Dragons centre Adam Warren.
The Dragons made their numerical advantage count on 59 minutes, a slick handing move resulted in Jamie Roberts putting winger Ashton Hewitt over in the corner with Davies adding the conversion from a difficult angle.
Ulster responded with a sixth try five minutes later. From a lineout replacements Adam McBurney, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timoney all went close before lock Alan O’Connor stretched out to ground the ball over the whitewash, but Bill Johnston failed to convert.
Ulster should have had a seventh try, Nick Timoney made a powerful break from the base of the scrum, the ball was flung wide but Lyttle was bungled into touch close to the try line.
Ulster wasted another opportunity from an attacking scrum as they knocked on inside the Dragons 22.
The visitors had the final say when Lions centre Roberts went over from close range with Davies converting.