Ulster romp takes spotlight off McLaughlin
Ulster 30 Dragons 12
Ulster treated themselves to a bonus-point success at Ravenhill last night.
An injury-time try by Stefan Terblanche on top of first-half efforts by Robbie Diack, Ruan Pienaar and Craig Gilroy had the Ulster fans talking about the game rather the controversy over the decision to replace head coach Brian McLaughlin at the end of the season.
The game never really rose above the mediocre, although Pienaar's try was one of the best of the season, while the scrum-half also kicked 10 points.
Ulster made a shaky start and paid the price in the seventh minute as Jason Tovey put the visitors ahead with a penalty, but they hit back with two tries in as many minutes. First, No 8 Diack stole a line-out on the Dragons '22' and juggled the ball before running into the corner.
Then came the try of the season when Ian Humphreys began a move from deep inside his own half and after the ball had flipped through at least 10 pair of hands, full-back Adam D'Arcy gave the slick scoring-pass to Pienaar.
Tovey then belted over his second penalty and saw another one matched by Pienaar as Ulster went in at the break 15-9 ahead.
Tovey rattled over his fourth penalty in the 50th minute before Ulster scored their third try.
From the restart Michael McComish claimed possession and drove deep into Dragons territory before the ball was fed out right for Gilroy to touch down.
Ulster were not helped by the sin-binnings of Willie Faloon and Ian Whitten.
But in an explosive final few minutes, Terblanche sauntered in for that crucial bonus.
Ulster -- A D'Arcy (Danielli 57), C Gilroy, I Whitten, N Spence, S Terblanche; I Humphreys (P Marshall 64), R Pienaar; C Black (McAllister 48), A Kyriacou (Brady 55), J Afoa (capt), L Stevenson (Barker 73), D Tuohy, M McComish, W Faloon (Birch 64), R Diack.
Dragons -- M Thomas, J Smith (Bedford 67), A Hughes, A Smith (capt), A Brew; J Tovey, W Evans (Tuilagi 69); N Williams (Price 50), S Jones (Buckley 60), N Buck (Way 59), A Jones (Brown 60), R Sidoli, J Groves, D Waters, G Thomas (Ellis 74).
REF -- C Damasco (Italy).