Ulster keep Pro12 playoff chase on track with late win against Dragons

Newport Gwent Dragons 17Ulster 27

ULSTER STAGED A late show to keep the heat on Munster and overcome a brave Newport Gwent Dragons side 27-17.

Craig Gilroy pounced to give Ulster the lead but the hosts fought back thanks to Rynard Landman.

A slick backs move put Jared Payne over, before Ollie Griffths hit back. However the visitors landed a late penalty and John Andrew burrowed over to rob the deserving Dragons of a losing bonus-point.

Les Kiss’s men are now two points behind Munster, who travel to basement boys Zebre.

Ulster struck first when Pienaar sent a kick deep into the Dragons 22. The ball bounced over the head of Dragons wing Tom Prydie and into the hands of Gilroy, who darted over the line to draw first blood.

Pienaar was on target with the conversion to give Ulster a 7-0 advantage after eight minutes.

Angus O’Brien narrowed the gap with a long-range penalty, but the South African scrum-half matched it with one of his own to send Ulster in at half time with a seven point lead.

The Dragons bit back after the break. Gilroy was shown yellow for a deliberate knock-on, and the hosts made their man advantage count moments later. They drove the resulting lineout to within inches of the Ulster line before lock Landman finally forced his way over.

O’Brien landed the touchline conversion to level the scores at 10-10 after 48 minutes.

Parity did not last long though as Ulster found their rhythm. They built the phases before replacement Paddy Jackson sent the ball behind the frontline to Olding, who slipped a perfectly timed inside ball for Payne to cut through and score.

But Griffiths hauled his side back into it on 66 minutes when he charged down Paul Marshall’s box-kick and chased it down to score.

O’Brien converted to tie it up but Jackson landed the crucial penalty five minutes from time before Ah You shoulder charged full-back Meyer and was shown red.

And replacement Andrew burrowed over and Jackson converted to give late hope of a bonus-point, but time ran out.

Dragons: C Meyer; A Hughes, T Morgan, S Beard, T Prydie (D Jones 77); A O’Brien, C Davies (S Pretorious 67); S Hobbs (P Price 55), R Buckley (D Harris 77), B Harris, N Crosswell (M Screech 67), R Landman, O Griffiths, N Cudd (H Keddie 64), L Evans (capt).

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Ulster: J Payne; C Gilroy, L Marshall, D Cave (Jackson 48), C Piutau, S Olding, R Pienaar; (J Stockdale 77), A Warwick (C Black 60), R Herring (capt) (J Andrew 72), W Herbst (R Ah You 24), K Treadwell, A O’Connor (C Ross 60), I Henderson (R Diack 70), C Henry, S Reidy.

Referee: Mike Adamson

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