Match Report: Ulster Rugby 23-6 Newport-Gwent Dragons

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Match Report: Ulster Rugby 23-6 Newport-Gwent Dragons

Post by ADM » Sat Nov 01, 2014 10:38 pm

[tag=image] ... _badge.png[/tag][tag=content]After two tough weeks in Europe, Ulster got back to winning ways in the Guinness Pro12 with a 23-6 win over the Newport-Gwent Dragons at the Kingspan Stadium.

Ireland international Stuart Olding, released from national duty, was superb at full-back, scoring two tries in a win that keeps Ulster in third place within touching distance of the Ospreys in first.

Two tries from Olding, a further score from Declan Fitzpatrick and two penalties from Paddy Jackson were enough to see off a tame Dragons outfit, who could only manage two Angus O’Brien penalties in retaliation.

It was a tough night for rugby in difficult conditions, but it is a welcome return to the winners’ circle for Neil Doak who will be pleased that his side did not suffer a third successive defeat.

The conditions in Belfast were wet, blustery and downright dismal, yet Ulster got stuck in as if it was the opposite, immediately going on the offensive with a bruising spell of possession straight from the kick off.

The only problem was they reaped no reward. After six minutes of hammering away at their visitors’ defensive line, all they had to show for their efforts was Roger Wilson trudging off injured, to be replaced by Robbie Diack.

The Dragons responded in similar fashion, albeit not for quite as long, as they grew into the game midway through the half with some strong running from Andy Powell spearheading their best attempts.

But the Irish province were always the more threatening, and they thought they had their opening try of the evening in the twenty-fifth minute as Darren Cave raced onto a kick through from Stuart Olding.

Cave dived onto the ball at the same time as Dragons lock James Thomas and it required the assistance of the TMO to rule that the Welshman had just got his hand on the ball first.

Instead the home side had to settle for two penalties from the boot of Paddy Jackson before bagging their first five-pointer of the evening.

The score was the end result of a brilliant counter-attack from Ulster, with Darren Cave’s sublime delayed pass sending Stuart Olding through to score after half an hour.

The Dragons sought to strike back immediately, and they did so with their first points of the night: a penalty from fly-half Angus O’Brien just before the break.

It took seven minutes, and a lengthy debate by the TMO, for Ulster to effectively end the game as a contest as they ran in their second try of the night, with Stuart Olding claiming his second of the night.

Stuart McCloskey’s flick pass over his shoulder provided the space for the full-back who did extremely well to evade the covering tackle and score in the corner, extending Ulster’s lead to thirteen.

Angus O’Brien’s second penalty of the night reduced the deficit to 16-6 after sixty minutes following Robbie Diack’s use of hands on the floor.

The game was proving to be a difficult one in terms of injuries as, having seen Roger Wilson and Louis Ludik already go off, the Ulster coaching staff would have watched in misery as Stuart McCloskey also came off in pain.

It was also proving to be a difficult one in that Ulster were struggling to pull away from their opponents, unforced errors costing them dearly, with Ian Humphreys’ slack pass to Ricky Andrew on the wing with ten minutes to go drawing groans of disappointment from the crowd.

It had been like that for most of the match and as the time ticked away, the crowd began to fade away as more and more fans headed for the exits knowing that the bonus point was just beyond their side tonight.

Declan Fitzpatrick did manage to find his way over with the last play of the game to grab a third try for Ulster with the final play of the game, however it was a case of too little too late for the hosts.

The scorers

For Ulster
Tries: Olding (2), Fitzpatrick
Con: Humphreys
Pens: Jackson (2)
For Dragons
Pens: O’Brien (2)

(15-9) Stuart Olding, Louis Ludik (Ricky Andrew 36), Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey (Ian Humphreys 63), Peter Nelson, Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall (Michael Heaney 77); (1-8) Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst (Declan Fitzpatrick 55), Lewis Stevenson (Neil McComb 60), Franco van der Merwe, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson (Robbie Diack 5).

Subs not used: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick.

(15-9) Jason Tovey (Geraint Rhys Jones 43), Ashton Hewitt, Matthew Pewtner, Rhys Williams (Barney Nightingale 67), Aled Brew, Angus O’Brien, Richie Rees (Jonathan Evans 67); (1-8) Boris Stankovich (Owen Evans 52), T Rhys Thomas (Elliot Dee 49), Dan Way (Lloyd Fairbrother 30), James Thomas, Rynard Landman, Lewis Evans (Oliver Griffiths 63), James Benjamin, Andy Powell.

Sub not used: Scott Andrews.

Man of the Match: Stuart Olding (Ulster)
Attendance: 13,501
Referee: Matteo Liperini (FIR)[/tag]

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