Connacht suffered a 23-7 defeat at the hands of Ulster in wet and blustery conditions in Belfast tonight. It was always going to be a tough task for Pat Lam’s injury-ravaged side but they fought to the very end, despite losing both Finlay Bealham and Danie Poolman before the break.

Ulster’s tries came from Stuart McCloskey in the first half and Clive Ross in the second, while Irish international Paddy Jackson kicked 13 points from the tee.

Jack Carty responded for Connacht, with a well worked try in the corner after 55 minutes. The Athlone man, who this week signed a two-year contract extension with the province, then converted from the touchline.

Half time: Ulster 13 – 0 Connacht

Full time: Ulster 23 – 7 Connacht

Ulster Rugby: Charles Piutau, Louis Ludik, Luke Marshall (Darren Cave 53), Stuart McCloskey (Tommy Bowe 73), Jacob Stockdale, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar (Paul Marshall 53); Andy Warwick (Callum Black 56), Rory Best (Rob Herring 66), Rodney Ah You (Wiehahn Herbst 56), Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross (Franco van der Merwe 68), Chris Henry, Roger Wilson (Sean Reidy 40).

Connacht Rugby: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Rory Parata, Danie Poolman (Ciaran Gaffney 36), Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion (Caolin Blade 65); Denis Buckley (Tom McCartney 75), Dave Heffernan (Shane Delahunt 66), Finlay Bealham (JP Cooney 25), Quinn Roux (Ultan Dillane 53), James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Nepia Fox-Matamua (Naulia Dawai 62), John Muldoon (Eoin McKeon 66).

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)

Man of the Match: Iain Henderson

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