Sunday 21 April 2019

Cooney keeps play-off hopes alive

Dragons 15-28 Ulster

John Cooney of Ulster dives over to score his side's third try. Photo: Gareth Everett/Sportsfile
John Cooney of Ulster dives over to score his side's third try. Photo: Gareth Everett/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportdesk

Ulster defied losing three men to yellow cards to record what could prove to be a crucial bonus-point win over the Dragons in Newport.

Dan McFarland's side, who are chasing a play-off spot, scored tries through Jordi Murphy, Marty Moore, John Cooney and a crucial late effort from skipper Alan O'Connor.

Ulster's Peter Nelson during the match. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ulster's Peter Nelson during the match. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

A penalty score and a Taine Basham try for the Dragons gave Ulster something to worry about.

Dragons lost captain Richard Hibbard in the warm-up and his stand-in as skipper, Harrison Keddie, to a foot injury, but they did open the scoring through Josh Lewis.

The visitors hit back as phase after phase ended with Murphy crashing over from close range and Cooney converted before Lewis missed a second penalty effort.

Darren Cave was yellow carded for an early tackle on Lewis, but a man deficit failed to stop Ulster moving further clear on the game's resumption with two quick scores.

Ulster's Clive Ross is tackled by Oliviero Fabiani of Zebre. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Ulster's Clive Ross is tackled by Oliviero Fabiani of Zebre. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

First Moore crashed over after taking a fine line from a Cooney pass. Then the scrum-half pounced for a third Ulster try following a poor kick inside his own 22 by Rhodri Williams.

Cooney added two conversions and that was the game.

The final quarter saw plenty of action. Rob Lyttle and Louis Ludik were both sent to the sin bin for deliberate knock-ons and the Dragons were awarded a penalty try.

An automatic seven points gave the hosts some respectability, but Ulster were easy winners and even with 13 men they were able to crash over for a bonus-point effort via O'Connor.

There was still time late on for the Dragons to grab a late consolation via Basham, one of their few bright sparks.

Dragons - J Williams; Amos (Morgan 55), Warren, Sage, Howells; Lewis (Tovey 41), R Williams (Knoyle 50); Harris (Reynolds 78), Lawrence, Fairbrother (Brown 41), Davies (M Williams 75), Screech, Taylor, Basham, Keddie (Greggains 19)

Ulster - Ludik; Baloucoune, Cave (Hume 64), McCloskey, Lyttle; Burns (Nelson 78), Cooney (Shanahan 56); O'Sullivan (Warwick 64), Herring (Andrew 70), Moore (Herbst 52), O'Connor (Nagle 77), Treadwell, Ross (Rea 64), Murphy, Timoney

Ref - Stuart Berry (SARU).

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