Dogged Ulster dethrone Kings
Ulster 33 Southern Kings 19
Ulster leapfrogged over Benetton into Conference B second place as their PRO14 play-off hopes continued with a ragged five-try victory.
It was nearly 10 minutes of incessant Ulster driving and recycling before centre Stuart McCloskey was set free out wide on the left, and his sheer strength took him through three tackles to dive over.
Although Ulster lost full-back Louis Ludik in the ninth minute with a leg injury, his replacement Michael Lowry jigged his way through the Kings defence and Rob Lyttle took his scoring pass to dive over in the corner. Billy Burns converted both tries and Ulster had the start they required. Not that it was easy going for the home side. They had to produce some stout defence before speedy winger Yaw Penxe found an inch of space out right to scoot into the corner in the 21st minute. The Kings got another try five minutes later in strange circumstances.
Full-back Ulrich Beyers had touched down but initially it appeared to knock the ball on from a Meli Rokoua offload. However, following a referee referral to the TMO, the ball had bounced off the knee and the try was given. Pretorious converted, 14-12 and Ulster started to wobble a little.
That was until the 35th minute when a lineout drive was reset and the fit-again Marcell Coetzee crashed over with Burns again adding the extras to allow Ulster a useful 21-12 half-time advantage.
Five minutes after the restart and the bonus point was in the bag as more incessant Ulster pressure in the red zone saw the ball quickly moved right for young winger Robert Baloucoune to dive over.
As in the first half, Ulster had to utilise their defensive patterns as the Kings found their inner strength again and a forward-orientated effort saw hooker Michael Willemse crash over. So at 28-19 there was still some work to be done by Ulster. But when Kings were reduced to 13 men in the 67th minute when centre Tertius Kruger received a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Baloucoune, and replacement hooker Alandre Van Rooyen a yellow, that was that. Ulster did grab another try through John Andrew, but the game was, in essence, already over.
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