Bowe shines on comeback
Published 28/02/2014 | 21:37
Two tries from Tommy Bowe on his comeback after three months out with a groin injury kept Ulster in third place in the RaboDirect PRO12 table as they racked up a bonus point 38-8 win over the overwhelmed Dragons.
Ulster scored five tries with Bowe's brace - he was substituted at half-time in a performance which must have impressed Ireland coach Joe Schmidt - being added to by scores from Ruan Pienaar, Sean Doyle and a penalty try, the latter which brought up the bonus point after only 32 minutes.
Paddy Jackson also put in a notable shift and kicked all five conversion attempts which will also have been noted by Schmidt, who may be without Jonathan Sexton for next week's Six Nations game against Italy.
Ulster led 31-3 at half-time with their only try of the second half coming from Doyle as both sides tired after their five-day turnaround from their previous games.
Ulster opened their account early with a Pienaar penalty after two minutes and then just on the quarter-hour mark Pienaar crossed the line for a try after Ulster countered from their own half.
A Richie Rees high kick was fielded by Jared Payne who beat Matthew Pewtner and then threw a long pass to the advancing Darren Cave who had Pienaar steaming up on his inside to take the scoring pass.
Jackson added the conversion and Ulster were 10-0 up. That became 17-0 eight minutes later when - shortly after Luke Marshall had to leave the field - a Johann Muller lineout off the top saw Bowe hit the line at an angle before racing clear to score.
Jackson converted and did so again three minutes later when Bowe got over again after picking a great line through the Dragons defence which saw Ulster comfortably lead 24-0 after 26 minutes.
The bonus point was racked up just before the half-hour when after a series of five-metre scrums, and with visiting prop Owen Evans in the bin, referee Lloyd Linton awarded the penalty try which Jackson converted taking Ulster's lead to 31-0.
Rhys Jones then hit an upright with a penalty shot for the Dragons but made good with the last action of the half which finished with Ulster leading 31-3.
With Bowe substituted at the interval, Ulster still pushed on with Doyle getting their fifth try five minutes after the restart with Jackson continuing his unblemished record off the tee before he was replaced around the hour mark.
David McIlwaine then had a try ruled out by the TMO for a forward pass from Payne and the Dragons finally got a score from winger Ross Wardle after 63 minutes which Jones failed to convert.