Ulster smash Dragons
PRO14 REPORT: Ulster maintained their unbeaten start to the new Pro14 season with a dominant 52-25 home victory over the Dragons.
Les Kiss' troops racked up their fourth victory from as many games by racing into an unassailable advantage at Kingspan Stadium while youngster Nick Timoney had his moment in the spotlight with his first two senior tries for the men in white.
Stuart McCloskey got the Ulstermen off to the perfect start, diving over the line following slick build-up play from Charles Piutau, Clive Ross and Chris Henry.
A sixth-minute penalty from the boot of Dorian Jones reduced the early deficit but back came Ulster, who scored their second try of the match courtesy of Peter Nelson, who dotted down to the right of the posts before converting himself.
Another Jones penalty with 15 minutes on the clock saw the Dragons make it 12-6 but that only served to spur on the men in white, who blitzed forward again with purpose six minutes later and were awarded a penalty try when the visitors' Lloyd Fairbrother was reprimanded for collapsing a rolling maul.
With 26 minutes gone, Ulster had scored their bonus-point try, with Timoney forcing his way over to claim his first Pro14 try, the youngster receiving the congratulations of his teammates before Nelson stepped up to tuck away the extras once again.
The onslaught continued as Wihahn Herbst was next to finish off another Ulster offensive, Nelson again making no mistake to further stretch his team’s advantage.
However, the Dragons eventually found something to shout about once again when Rhys Buckley darted his way over the line, Jones dissecting the posts to make it 31-13.
There was to be no sea-change in the visitors' luck after the break however, with Thretton Palamo punished for failing to ground to a loose ball near his own tryline, Jacob Stockdale pouncing to score his team’s sixth try of the evening.
Then, with less than 49 minutes gone, Timoney burst into life once again and, deploying a slick side-step, the 22-year-old dived over once again to seal a brace, leaving Nelson with an easy conversion to make it 45-13.
With 57 minutes on the clock, the Dragons grabbed their second try of the match through replacement scrumhalf Dane Blacker and Angus O'Brien kicked the resultant conversion.
But back came the hosts, with David Shanahan taking a quick tap penalty and blazing a trail over the whitewash, Brett Herron adding the extras as Ulster won by a sizeable margin.
The last word would go to the Dragons however as they gobbled up a loose ball and Will Talbot-Davies streaked away for a late breakaway try.
Tries: McCloskey, Nelson, Penalty Try, Timoney 2, Herbst, Stockdale, Shanahan
Cons: Nelson 4, Herron
Tries: Buckley, Blacker, Talbot-Davies
Cons: Jones, O'Brien
Pens: Jones 2
Yellow cards: Lloyd Fairbrother (Dragons, 20); Rodney Ah You (Ulster, 80)
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Dave Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 Chris Henry (captain), 6 Clive Ross, 5 Alan O'Connor, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Kyle McCall.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Matthew Rea, 21 D Shanahan, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Rob Lyttle.
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Thretton Palamo, 12 Pat Howard, 11 George Gasson, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Owain Leonard, 1 Tom Davies, 2 Gerard Ellis, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Matthew Screech, 5 Rynard Landman, 6 Max Williams, 7 Ollie Griffiths (captain), 8 Robson Blake.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Phil Price, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Joseph Davies, 20 Lennon Greggains, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Angus O'Brien, 23 Will Talbot-Davies.
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies, Adam Jones (both Wales)
TMO: John Mason (Wales)