ULSTER 24 CARDIFF BLUES 17
Ulster made it a maximum 15 points at home this season with a bonus point win over the Cardiff Blues.
Cardiff took the lead on three minutes when Wiehahn Herbst was punished at the scrum and Rhys Patchell slotted over the penalty from in front of the posts.
Nick Williams should have got the game’s opening try but he was stripped off the ball as he crossed the whitewash from a driving maul.
Ulster took the lead on 19 minutes with a well worked try from Andrew Trimble.
Ian Humphreys threw a looped pass to Louis Ludik, the South African hit the line at speed and fed the Irish winger to go over in the corner but Humphreys couldn’t convert.
Ulster’s advantage only lasted a couple of minutes before Patchell landed his second penalty to restore the visitors’ lead.
Patchell increased the Blues with a penalty four minutes before the interval as Sean Reidy was punished for playing the ball on the ground.
Ulster went into the interval with a three-point lead, Cardiff had No8 Josh Turnball sin-binned for a stamp, Ulster elected to take a scrum, Stuart McCloskey came onto a crash ball and was stopped inches from the line but Paul Marshall picked up and dived over and Humphreys converted to give Neil Doak’s side a 12-9 cushion at the break.
Ulster got their third try five minutes after the restart, they kicked a penalty to touch and from a powerful drive Williams touched down with Humphreys converting.
Stuart McCloskey scored the bonus point try on 51 minutes after good work from Anndrew Trimble created the space for the centre.
Herbst was sin binned on 55 minutes and Cardiff took immediate advantage when captain Josh Navidi stretched to go over for an unconverted try.
Patchell kicked a penalty to earn the Blues a losing bonus point but any hopes of Cardiff snatching a draw ended when winger Aled Summerhill was yellow carded.
Ulster: L Ludik, A Trimble, S Arnold, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst; L Stevenson, F van der Merwe, R Wilson, S Reidy, N Williams;
Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick for Black 54 mins, R Lutton, P Browne for Stevenson 54 mins, W Faloon for Reidy 70 mins, D Shanahan for Ludik 69 mins, P Jackson for Humphreys 51 mins, D Cave for Arnold 54 mins.
Cardiff Blues: D Fish; A Summerhill, T Isaacs, A Thomas, R Smith; R Patchell, T Knoyle; S Hobbs, M Rees, C Mitchell, L Reed, J Down, C Dolan, J Navidi, J Turnbull.
Replacements: E Lewis for Ress 64 mins, T Davies for Hobbs 73 mins, T Filise for Mitchell 52 mins, C Dicomidis, M Cook for Dolan 56 mins, L Jones for Knoyle 60 mins, J Evans, G Smith
Referee: B Whitehouse (SRU)