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Gilroy claims hat-trick as Gibbes reign begins in style

Ulster 59 Southern Kings 10

Ulster's Craig Gilroy. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster's Craig Gilroy. Photo: Sportsfile

Jono Gibbes will be delighted with the start to his tenure as head coach of Ulster after his side ran in nine tries in a dominant win over the Southern Kings at Kingspan Stadium.

Man of the match Craig Gilroy ran in a hat-trick, with six second-half Ulster tries illustrating how one-sided the tie was.

Ulster's Darren Cave edges ahead of Southern Kings' Godlen Masimla. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster's Darren Cave edges ahead of Southern Kings' Godlen Masimla. Photo: Sportsfile

However, the hosts will be concerned about injuries to Charles Piutau, Sean Reidy and Rob Lyttle.

It took six minutes for Ulster to score their first, Gilroy shrugging off a tackle to cross from the back of a maul.

Gilroy then turned provider, breaking the line and passing inside for Stuart McCloskey to take it the rest of the way, but joy turned to concern when Piutau and Reidy had to be helped off.

Gilroy bagged his second just before the interval in almost identical fashion to the first, and the bonus point was secure two minutes after the restart when Johnny McPhillips, on his first start, was put over by Luke Marshall.

Southern Kings' Yaw Penxe in action against Ulster's Stuart McCloskey. Photo: Sportsfile
Southern Kings' Yaw Penxe in action against Ulster's Stuart McCloskey. Photo: Sportsfile

McPhillips then threw a brilliant pass over the top to send Lyttle over for his first, before Gilroy wrapped up his hat-trick by finishing a length-of-the-field counter-attack.

Another superb counter-attack was finished by Lyttle shortly after. However, he was then withdrawn hurt, before replacement Harlon Klaassen ensured the visitors would leave with a consolation.

There was still time for the hosts to wrap things up with two late tries, Kieran Treadwell going over in the corner before Darren Cave produced a brilliant solo score.

Ulster - C Piutau (L Ludik 21); C Gilroy, L Marshall, S McCloskey (D Cave 56), R Lyttle (M Dalton 61); J McPhillips (J Stewart 56), J Cooney; A Warwick (K McCall 56), J Andrew (R Herring 56), W Herbst (R Ah You 56); A O'Connor, K Treadwell; M Rea, S Reidy (C Henry 35), N Timoney.

Southern Kings - M Banda; Y Penxe, B Klaassen, L Vulindlu (B Janse van Rensburg 68), A Volmink (H Klaassen 52); M du Toit, R Gouws (G Masimla 63); S Ferreira (J Smith 68), M Willemse (S Coetzee 71), P Scholtz (D van der Westhuizen 63), S Greeff (J van Vuuren 63), B de Wee, A Ntsila, M Burger (E Bredenkamp 71), R Lerm.

REF - J Neville (IRFU).

Irish Independent

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