Ulster hammer hapless Connacht to extend miserable record at Ravenhill
Ulster 58 Connacht 12
Ulster put themselves firmly back on track in their bid to reach the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs with a thumping 58-12 bonus point win over an out-gunned Connacht at Ravenhill tonight.
A hat-trick of tries from Andrew Trimble and a brace from Paul Marshall were added to by single touchdowns from Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy. Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson added 16 points to the total with the boot while his replacement James McKinney landed one conversion.
Connacht's tries came from Dave McSharry and Darragh Leader with Miah Nikora converting Leader's second-half effort.
Ulster were up and running inside five minutes after Dan Parks curiously opted to cross-kick for Fionn Carr when unable to kick directly to touch due to the ball being passed back to the former Scotland international from outside the visitors' 22.
Ulster gobbled up possession and scrum-half Paul Marshall darted over though Jackson was unable to land the conversion.
Connacht, though, immediately hit back and, after securing the restart, they recycled the ball through multiple phases before Robbie Henshaw created the space out left for McScharry to score after seven minutes.
Parks missed the extras but the scores only remained level for four minutes as Jackson slotted an 11th minute penalty to put Ulster 8-5 up.
That became 13-5 when some slick handling saw Trimble pop up on the left wing and dance down the touchline to score Ulster's second try which again went unconverted by Jackson.
The home side then got their third when a Trimble break put Bowe over near the posts and, this time, Jackson added the conversion off the post.
They had their bonus point two minutes later when a quick throw by Trimble was taken by Paul Marshall whose angled run got him in under the sticks. Jackson added the two points and Ulster were 27-5 up after just 23 minutes.
Jackson then bagged his second penalty just before half-time to give the home side a 30-5 lead at the break.
Ulster scored again a minute into the new half when a Connacht attacking pass went to ground just outside Ulster's 22 and Bowe picked up and fed inside to Trimble who ran on unopposed to score his second. Jackson's conversion made it 37-5.
Luke Marshall then got over for Ulster's sixth score after lovely hands from Bowe who hit Jackson on the loop before the fly-half put his centre colleague away.
With Connacht replacement second row Michael Swift binned in the 57th minute, Trimble raced over for his hat-trick a minute later and Jackson's fifth conversion took the home tally past 50.
Just after the hour mark, the visitors finally got another score when replacement Leader's effort was converted by fellow sub Nikora.
But normal service was resumed five minutes later when Gilroy got on the end of McKinney's chip through and the replacement fly-half then landed a superb conversion.