Stockdale seals win for Ulster in dour affair
Ulster 8 Ospreys 0
Ulster came out on the right side of a wholly forgettable encounter at Kingspan Stadium as they won 8-0 over the Ospreys in the Guinness PRO14 and denied the Welsh side a losing bonus point.
The result means that Jono Gibbes' side move to within four points of third-placed Edinburgh in Conference B. Ospreys, meanwhile, stay fifth in Conference A and remain in contention for a 2018-19 Champions Cup place.
Jacob Stockdale's try in the final play of the game put the affair to bed after a game that was, to that point, only separated by a sixth-minute John Cooney penalty on a night where protestors gathered in their masses outside the ground.
Around 200 people were in attendance outside the stadium, and matters inside were just as bleak as Cooney's sixth-minute penalty was the only thing to cheer early for both sides.
Stockdale went close for Ulster, just stopped short by Jeff Hassler, before the Ospreys had a try chalked off when Kieron Fonotia went over, only for the TMO to call it back for a neck roll at a previous ruck.
Stuart McCloskey was also halted just short of the line moments before the interval and, after the restart, things didn't improve much as Ulster continued their dominance but failed to get the score they needed.
They were aided when Hassler saw yellow for illegally slowing down the ball, and they thought they finally had the try when Nick Timoney slid over in the corner only for the TMO to again rule it out for a knock on.
It looked like the game would end with just the one score but up stepped Stockdale, the player of the tournament from this year's Six Nations, seizing on a loose pass from Dan Biggar and returning it for the try that sealed the win.
The win means Ulster have revived their ambitions of making the knock-out stages of the competition by beating Edinburgh away last week and they have yet to play Glasgow at home on April 21 and Munster at Thomond Park seven days later.
ULSTER - Charles Piutau; Louis Ludik, Darren Cave (Luke Marshall 49), Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny McPhillips (David Shanahan 31), John Cooney; (1-8) Callum Black (Andrew Warwick 55), Rory Best (Rob Herring 69), Ross Kane (Tom O'Toole 77); Kieran Treadwell (Alan O'Connor 52), Iain Henderson, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy (Nick Timoney 65), Jean Deysel.
OSPREYS - Dan Evans; Jeff Hassler, Kieron Fonotia, Owen Watkin, Hanno Dirksen (Sam Davies 69); Dan Biggar, Tom Habberfield; (1-8) Nicky Smith (Rhodri Jones 60), Scott Otten (Ifan Phillips 19), Dmitri Arhip (Ma'afu Fia 61); Bradley Davies, Adam Beard (Guy Mercer 69); Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Cross, James King.
Ref - Andrew Brace (IRFU)