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Sunday 20 April 2014

Ulster clamber to victory over the Ospreys

7 February 2014; Ashley Beck, Ospreys, is tackled by Tom McCourt, left, and Ruan Pienaar, Ulster, Celtic League 2013/14, Round 13, Ulster v Ospreys, Ravenhill Park, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Picture credit: Russell Pritchard / SPORTSFILE
Ashley Beck, Ospreys, is tackled by Tom McCourt, left, and Ruan Pienaar

Ulster climbed to second spot in the RaboDirect PRO12 table by coming from behind to beat the Ospreys 10-7 at a wet and windy Ravenhill on Friday evening.

A second-half try from Darren Cave and conversion from Ruan Pienaar - along with a first-half penalty from the South African - helped the hosts overturn a 7-3 half-time deficit and saw them nail down another four points, while the Ospreys made off with a losing bonus point.

The Ospreys started with venom and pace and were rewarded with flanker Sam Lewis getting over the line after nine minutes - most of which had been deep in Ulster territory - following a free-kick against the visitors at a scrum.

Sam Davies' excellent conversion put them 7-0 up, and it stayed that way after Michael Allen's 14th-minute surge over the line in the left corner was ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on.

But Ulster did hit back on 23 minutes when, following a long Allen kick-off a turnover, Matthew Morgan was wrapped up and the penalty conceded. Even though Allen ran it, referee Nigel Owens called it back and a relieved Pienaar got Ulster off the mark.

The Ospreys resisted but Davies was wide with a 32nd-minute penalty after Allen was harshly penalised for an apparent illegal tackle.

The half ended with Ulster winning a penalty at a scrum, but Pienaar misfired - which summed up their first half - and the sides trooped off with the Ospreys leading 7-3.

But Ulster hit the ground running on the restart and, after Davies had made a mess of a mark and clearance kick, Cave sped past Duncan Jones to score and put the home side in the lead for the first time.

Pienaar added the conversion to get Ulster 10-7 ahead after 43 minutes.

Ten minutes later, half-time substitute Iain Henderson powered over after Pienaar charged down a Tito Tebaldi kick, but the TMO ruled it out as Henderson was adjudged to have lost the ball.

The remainder of the game saw both sides slog it out, but Ulster held firm in the face of a strong Ospreys finish.

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