Butler sin-binning exposes Connacht
Connacht were severely punished for having a man in the sin-bin as Ulster ran in two tries in five second-half minutes to emerge victorious at the Sportsground.
After dominating the early exchanges Connacht fell behind in the 16th minute when Chris Leathem raced in under the posts.
Ulster lock David Whann was sent to the sin-bin after 23 minutes and Callum Boland slotted the resultant penalty to make it 7-3.
Another Boland penalty was cancelled out by one from Paddy Jackson, but when Ulster's Blane McIlroy was also binned, Jackson's penalty left it 10-9 at the break.
When David Butler was sin-binned 12 minutes after the restart, Jackson crossed for Ulster and five minutes later Andy Warwick finished to leave it 24-12 to Ulster.
But deep into injury-time Tadhg Leader touched down for Connacht after some incessant pressure gave them the deserved consolation.
Connacht -- C Boland; D Butler, P Finn, N Kenneally (T Leader 76), S Layden; P Hughes (J Carty 76), M Dolan; A Spring (D Higgins 76), T Power (C Thompson inj, 69), G Fahy (S Wooton 62), B Moylett, D Qualter, D Heffernan, A Conneely, R Cunningham.
Ulster -- C Simpson; C Leathem, C Colvin, L Marshall, M McAuley (C Spence h-t); P Jackson, B McIlroy (A Bratton 51); A Warwick, D Maxwell (J Murphy 59), K McCall (C Carey 59), D Whann, A Best (P Marks 66), C Threlfor, D Gallagher, S Irvine.
Ref -- E O'Dowd (IRFU).