Bowe returns to haunt Ulster
Ireland wing Tommy Bowe broke the hearts of his former colleagues when he scored the Ospreys' bonus-point fourth try near the end of a pulsating Magners League clash to deny Ulster a worthy bonus point.
Bowe pounced in the 78th minute to leave Ulster still trembling for their European future near the foot of the table. Although Brian McLaughlin's men failed yet again at home, it was a superb show by his side, who were not helped by some strange refereeing decisions.
An encouraging opening period for Ulster brought its reward in the 10th minute when Niall O'Connor slotted over a penalty after BJ Botha made a mess of the Ospreys scrum.
Ospreys charged back four minutes later when Shane Williams was allowed a yard of space to hold off Andrew Trimble's tackle to touch down in the corner.
Ulster were playing with some continuity and managed to engineer a penalty for O'Connor to put his side ahead again. It got even better for the hosts in the 24th minute when Simon Danielli held off two tackles to score.
Stirred into action, the Ospreys were back in the lead within six minutes -- a neat Dan Biggar nudge allowing his back line to charge through, and it was centre James Hook who scored close to the posts.
Ulster regained the lead yet again minutes later. With referee Neil Patterson about to blow for half-time, Ulster kept the ball alive from the turnover and it was left to Trimble to barge his way through to score, with O'Connor adding the extras.
The Ospreys looked more earnest at the start of the second period, Biggar getting them going with two quick-fire penalties. Then O'Connor saw an attempted kick charged down by Hook, who collected to run in under the posts from 35 metres to push his side out to a 25-18 lead. O'Connor twice made up for his error in the 56th and 63rd minutes with two well-struck penalties to make it a one-point game midway through the half.
A yellow card for Ian Gough after he pulled down an Ulster drive in the 67th minute allowed O'Connor to slot over his fifth penalty. However, Ulster's lead was again shortlived when two Biggar penalties, the second a rather dubious award by Patterson, put Ospreys on the front foot again.
With four minutes remaining, Ulster never gave up, but a very loose pass was booted upfield by Adam Jones and it was Bowe who was in second gear to win the race for the touchdown, with Biggar converting and leaving Ulster without even a precious bonus point.
Ulster -- P Wallace (N Spence 80); A Trimble, D Cave, I Whitten, S Danielli; N O'Connor, I Boss (P Marshall 80); B Young (T Court 60), R Best (A Kyriacou 80), BJ Botha, E O'Donoghue, D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry (capt), R Diack.
Ospreys -- L Byrne; T Bowe, S Parker, J Hook (N Walker 76), S Williams; D Biggar, M Phillips ( A Bishop 69); R Bevington (P James 56), H Bennett (E Shervington 69), A Jones (F Tiatia 54), I Gough, J Thomas (AW Jones 54), J Collins, M Holah, R Jones (capt).
Ref -- Neil Patterson (SRU).