The Ulster men continued their unbeaten run in the United Rugby Championship after claiming a bonus-point victory over Emirates Lions at Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening.
Ulster started the game full of vigour, making an early statement by keeping the ball in play and working quickly around the pitch. It wasn’t long before they got on the scoreboard, when Rob Herring threw a short line-out to Andrew Warwick for the pop-pass inside to Nick Timoney who took the ball at pace to bundle over for the try.
Having been caught napping for the try, the Lions found their way back into the game, building territory and probing the Ulster defence. They struck on sixteen minutes through winger, Stean Pienaar in the corner. EW Viljoen converted to take the lead.
A try went agonisingly begging for Ulster when Ethan McIlroy raced down the left wing with David McCann in support, but McCann couldn’t quite gather the ball cleanly at pace just short of the Lions line.
Ulster’s forwards were patient and carried strongly, drawing the Lions’ defence in to allow Billy Burns to send the long pass out to James Hume, who had the space to dot down untouched. Doak drilled over the conversion.
Just before the break, the Lions reduced the deficit to two, after Ulster were pinged for coming in at the side, and EW Viljoen obliged for the shot at the posts.
Early in the second half, Michael Lowry was called into the fray for his 50th Ulster appearance earlier than anticipated and in unfortunate circumstances, replacing Will Addison, who required a stretcher to be taken off the field.
Ulster’s third try came through Matty Rea, who showed real strength to breach the Lions line from the pick-and-go. Nathan Doak drilled over the extras.
Another opportunity came for the Ulster men when Alan O’Connor went on a thundering run only to be brought down inches short of the line, and the supporting Nathan Doak was unable to reach the chalk on second bite.
Player-of-the-Match, Nick Timoney claimed his second try of the night, and the bonus point for Ulster on 67 minutes, stretching out to get over the whitewash. Nathan Doak knocked over the conversion.
The Emirates Lions looked to reply but the hosts’ defence held firm and handling errors by the Lions gave Ulster the scrum for Nick Timoney to make the exit.
In Round 5, Ulster will travel to Dublin to face Connacht at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday.
Full-time score: Ulster 26 Emirates Lions 10
Tries: Nick Timoney (2), James Hume, Matty Rea
Cons: Nathan Doak (3)
Tries: Stean Pienaar
Cons: EW Viljoen
Pens: EW Viljoen
(15-9) Will Addison, Craig Gilroy, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;
(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Matty Rea, Nick Timoney, David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Mike Lowry, Ben Moxham.
(15-9) Divan Roussouw, Stean Pienaar, Manuel Rass, Megiel Burger Odendaal (Capt.), Sibahle Maxwane, EW Viljoen, Andre Warner;
(1-8) Sti Sithole, Gerrit Visagie, Carlu Sadie, Ruben Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel, Sibusiso Sangweni, Vincent Tshituka, Ruhan Straeuli.
Replacements: Pieter Jacobus Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morne van den Berg, Frederik Zeilinga, Wandisile Simelane.
✅ 4 wins from 4 ✅ Bonus pointGood night at the office for @UlsterRugby in the @URCOfficial 🏆
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) October 15, 2021