Connacht end Belfast hoodoo with first away win over Ulster in 58 years

Ulster's Marcus Rea is sent off at the start of the second half for a dangerous tackle during the gmae against
Ulster's Marcus Rea is sent off at the start of the second half for a dangerous tackle during the gmae against

ULSTER 15 CONNACHT 22

Connacht registered their first win in Belfast in 58 years with a 22-15 success Guinness PRO14 victory over Ulster on Friday night at Kingspan Stadium.

Ulster trailed 14-5 at the break, but found themselves down to 13 men at the start of the second half when Matty Rea was red carded for a dangerous tackle.

At the end of the first half Marcell Coetzee had been sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

And although Connacht laboured to get away from Ulster, an intercept try eight minutes from the end from Bundee Aki sealed a memorable victory for them.

For Ulster, it means back to back Irish derby defeats following last week's record 64-7 loss to Munster in Limerick.

Connacht on the attack against Ulster

Connacht on the attack against Ulster

Ulster started quite encouragingly, with thoughts of any hangover from the loss last weekend gone.

The loss of Irish international scrumhalf, Kieran Marmian after two minutes was a blow for the visitors.

However, they were unfazed and took the lead in the fifth minute - even though there may have been a slight hint of obstruction in the movement which saw replacement scrumhalf Caolin Blade raced clear and put fullback Tiernan O'Halleron in at the corner.

Outhalf Jack Carty put in a sublime touchline conversion as Halleron was taken off and replaced by Cian Kelleher.

It did not get much better for Ulster, their pack were put under the cosh and after a driving maul and three further penalties at scrumtime, the penalty try arrived and Ulster were 14-0 behind after the first quarter.

The second quarter did belong to Ulster, crossing the line three times, but only two of them counting.

A poor crossfield kick by outhalf Billy Burns was dealt with poorly by replacement Kelleher, and Stockdale profited, doing well to keep his foot of the deadball line to dot down for a try - the perfect way to announce his return to playing this season. John Cooney missed the touchline conversion and it was 14-5 after 25 minutes.

It looked as though winger Angus Kernohan had scored a try of the season contender three minutes later, kicking ahead just outside his own '22'and after Stockdale kick on the ground bounced off a Connacht player, Kernohan was there again to hack ahead and touch down. However, on TMO review Stockdale was marginally ahead of Kernohan when he made the initial punt ahead.

Then Peter Nelson looked to have scored when he went in at the corner after Stockdale kicked ahead, but again on review Nelson was in front of the kicker.

And just on half time, backrow forward Marcell Coetzee was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

The second half was only 10 seconds old when Rea collided at the kick-off with Kelleher. After referee Andy Brace had consulted with the TMO, the decision was red and Ulster were down to 13 men.

If ever Connacht were going to break their losing hjoodoo in Belrfast, the omens were now all in their favour.

The visitors saw an opportunity, but failed to take it. Nick Timoney put in a huge hit on Carty and the penalty provided the chance for Ulster to clear the ball way from their own'22'.

Cooney pushed a penalty effort from the 10m line left on 49 minutes, Cietzee returning from his binning to bring Ulster up to 14 players again.

Connacht butchered two scoring chances, number eight Paul Boye brought to ground first by Angus Curtis and then in a second wave by Stuart McCloskey.

Ulster still were unable to get out of their half, but defensively held sound leaving Carty with a long range penalty on 67 minutes making it a two-score game.

In what was their first real territory of the second half, on 70 minutes, a penalty to the corner saw Ulster set up the driving maul, but it caem to nothing.

And on 72 minutes the contest was over when Bundee Aki intercepted on the Ulster 10m line and raced clear. Carty missed the conversion, but at 22-8 there was no way back for Ulster.

The hosts had the final say when Nick Timoney went in under the posts just as the clock hit 80 minutes, and although Ulster regained the restart, six phases later the ball was lost and Connacht kicked dead to secure that first win since November 1960 in Belfast.