Ulster start fast to put the Dragons to the sword in Belfast

Dan McFarland’s side go in at half-time with a bonus point already in the bag

Ulster 40 Dragons 17

It hardly mattered too much that the second half was a very scrappy affair as Ulster’s 35-3 lead from the first 40 minutes ensured that they were always going to go three from three in the Pro14.

Two tries from Louis Ludik and John Cooney's five conversions from five attempts helped Dan McFarland's side to an expected bonus point win.

Marcell Coetzee, Eric O'Sullivan and Sean Reidy also crossed the Dragons' line during Ulster's completely dominant first half with Alan O'Connor bringing the home side their sole score after the break.


It was of little consolation that the Dragons won the ragged second half through touchdowns via Ashton Hewitt and a last minute effort from Jamie Roberts.

It didn’t take Ulster log to get going and with the wind at their backs they were 7-0 ahead after just four minutes thanks to a typically powerful Coetzee try - his third in as many games - and Cooney’s conversion.

That lead was cut by a Sam Davies penalty but then on 15 minutes, Ulster stretched their lead to 14-3 after O’Sullivan’s score under the posts and Cooney’s conversion.

Try number three duly arrived for Ulster and came in the 26th minute, when Reidy drove over the Dragons’ line with Cooney again converting to put the home side 21-3 ahead.

The bonus point was in the bag two minutes later when Matt Faddes’ pass allowed Ludik get over in the left corner with Cooney supplying a superb touchline conversion.

Ludik was on hand again just before the break for his second and Cooney, yet again, bisected the posts to allow a totally dominant Ulster lead 35-3 at half-time.

The second half was much more stop-start and Dragons got over the line on the hour mark with Ulster down to 14, due to Faddes being binned, when Ashton Hewitt crossed in the corner with Sam Davies converting.

O’Connor got Ulster moving again following some good approach work by the home team’s pack as he dotted down for the Irish provinces sixth try. Bill Johnston missed the conversion after hitting the post from O’Connor’s 65th minute effort.

The game ended with Roberts smashing through from close-in and Sam Davies converting.

Scorers: Ulster - Tries: Ludik 2, Cooney, O'Sullivan, Reidy, O'Connor Cons: Cooney 5. Dragons -Tries: Hewitt, Roberts Cons: S Davies 2 Pens: S Davies 1

Ulster: R Lyttle; M Faddes, J Hume, S Moore, L Ludik; I Madigan, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; A O'Connor, S Carter (capt); S Reidy, J Murphy, M Coetzee. Bill Johnston for Madigan (47 mins), Kieran Treadwell for Carter (50 mins),A McBurney for Andrew (52 mins), Kyle McCall for O'Sullivan (55 mins), Nick Timoney for Coetzee (55 mins), Ross Kane for Moore (55 mins), David Shanahan for Cooney (62 mins), Michael Lowry for Hume (74mins).

Dragons: J Holmes; J Rosser, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt; S Davies, R Williams (capt); G Bateman, R Hibbard, L Fairbrother; J Davies, M Screech; H Keddie, T Basham, O Griffiths. Replacements: E Shipp for Hibbard (48 mins), B Fry for Basham (48 mins), J Roberts for Dixon (52 mins), T Knoyle for Williams (59 mins), B Harris for Bateman (59 mins), J Maksymiw for J Davies (68 mins), C Coleman for Fairbrother (71 mins). Not used: A Robson

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (FIR).