McCloskey seals bonus point for off-colour Ulster
Ulster 24 Cardiff Blues 17
Ulster managed to scrape a bonus-point win last night despite a slip-shod performance at the Kingspan Stadium.
Ulster had managed to land their bonus by the 50th minute with tries by Andrew Trimble, Paul Marshall, Nick Williams and Stuart McCloskey.
However, it was a performance full of errors. There appeared to be no cohesion, particularly in the opening quarter when the visitors looked likely to spoil Ulster's 14-game unbeaten home run, taking the lead with a penalty from Rhys Patchell.
Ulster hit back through Trimble after a surge from Williams and a delicious long pass from Ian Humphreys.
Two more Patchell penalties edged the Blues ahead again.
But when Blues No 8 Josh Turnbull was sin-binned for dangerous use of the boot Ulster gained the upper hand when the lively Marshall darted over, with Humphreys converting for a 12-9 half-time lead.
The hosts resumed with intent and Williams touched down from a driven lineout
Centre McCcloskey secured the bonus point following a strong run from Trimble to make it 24-9.
Ulster lost Weihahn Herbst to the sin-bin and Josh Navidi squeezed over in the corner, but the hosts held out, helped by the yellow-carding of Aled Summerhill.
Ulster - L Ludik (Shanahan 69); A Trimble, S Arnold (Cave 55), S McCloskey, C Gilroy; I Humphreys (Jackson 52), P Marshall; C Black (Warwick 55), R Herring, W Herbst (Lutton 68); L Stevenson (Browne 55), F van der Merwe; R Wilson, S Reidy (Faloon 71), N Williams.
Cardiff - D Fish; A Summerhill, T Isaacs, A Thomas, R Smith; R Patchell, T Knoyle (Jones 61); S Hobbs, M Rees (Lewis 65), C Mitchell (Filise 53); L Reed, J Down (Davies 74), C Dolan (Cook 57), J Turnbull, J Navidi.
Ref - B Whitehouse (WRU).