Connacht suffered the ultimate backlash at Ravenhill tonight as a fervent Ulster team ran in eight tries to Connacht’s two.

Clearly affected by their exit from the Heineken Cup in last week’s quarter final, Mark Anscombe’s men were eager to return to winning ways. And they produced an impressive performance in front of their passionate home support, wrapping up the four-try bonus point after just 24 minutes, with Paul Marshall (2), Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe all crossing the line.

Connacht responded immediately to the hosts’ first try with Dave McSharry crossing in the left corner on eight minutes. But there wasn’t another score for the visitors until the hour mark when replacement winger Darragh Leader grabbed a break away try which substitute outhalf Miah Nikora converted.

At this stage however, Man of the Match Trimble, had secured his third try and Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy weren’t far behind with their own five-pointers.

 Ireland outhalf Paddy Jackson kicked two penalties and converted five from seven with his replacement James McKinney converting the eighth try.

Ulster drew first blood on four minutes with a try in the corner from their scrum half Paul Marshall, sniping through the Connacht defence. Jackson’s first conversion attempt went wide.

Connacht responded immediately and drew level on eight minutes following some hard team work on the Ulster line. The ball was moved through the backs with Robbie Henshaw offloading to McSharry who exploited an overlap on the left-hand side to score. Dan Parks’ difficult conversion attempt was also wide of the posts.

Working hard in defence, Connacht were penalised for not releasing on the ground and this time Jackson found his range in front of the sticks to extend his side’s lead.

And they raced further in front when Trimble went over on the left wing, Jackson sending his second conversion kick wide.

It went from bad to worse for Pat Lam’s men as Ulster continued to capitalise on the visitor’s errors. Try number three came on 23 minutes, this time Trimble breaking through before offloading to Bowe. Jackson’s conversion hit the left-hand post but fell over for the two points.

Just moments later, Ulster secured the try bonus point on 24 minutes when Paul Marshall broke free for his second try, thanks to a Trimble pass. Jackson converted and 15 minutes later he added another three point penalty just on the stroke of half time.

Half time: Ulster 30 – 5 Connacht

Ulster didn’t let up in the second half and continued to run riot scoring their fifth try just two minutes after the restart. In their opposition 22, Connacht were unfortunate to lose possession through a misjudged pass and Bowe was quick to pounce and offer the ball to Trimble who ran in untouched from 80 metres. Jackson added the conversion.

Five minutes later, inside centre Luke Marshall added to the tally by finishing off a brilliant move from the backs. Jackson converted to make it 44 – 5.

Connacht’s longest serving player Michael Swift was brought on from the bench for his 180th league appearance, replacing Mick Kearney who marked his 50th cap for Connacht this evening.

Swift was only on the pitch four minute before being penalised at the scrum by referee Ian Davies

and sent to the sin bin for ‘repeated infringements.’

With Connacht reduced to 14 men, and still defending the line, it wasn’t long before Ulster were celebrating try number seven and it was Trimble once again at the centre of the celebrations as he secured the hat-trick, Jackson once again converting.

Connacht finally got some reward for the missed opportunities when replacement winger Leader got over in the left corner.  Leader combined well with the midfield and an excellent passing move was finished off by Leader stretching his arm over for a great try. Fellow substitute Miah Nikora added the conversion.

The final try of the game came on 67 minutes through wing Craig Gilroy who picked up a kicked through ball from replacement outhalf James McKinney who also kicked the touchline conversion.

Robbie Henshaw thought he had a late try but he collected Nikora’s cross-field kick with one foot out of touch.

Full time: Ulster 58 – 12 Connacht

ULSTER: R Andrew; A Trimble, T Bowe, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Herring, R Lutton; J Muller (capt), I Henderson; R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements _ S Doyle for Diack (10 mins), L Stevenson for Williams (25-31 mins) and for Henry (59 mins), N Annett for Herring (49 mins), S McCloskey for L Marshall (53 mins), M Heaney for P Marshall (59 mins), J McKinney for Jackson (61 mins), T Court for Warwick, A Macklin for Lutton (both 62 mins).

CONNACHT: R Henshaw; T O’Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr; D Parks, K Marmion; D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You; A Muldowney, M Kearney; J Muldoon (capt), E Masterson, E McKeon.

Replacements _ R Loughney for Ah You (31-39 and 61 mins), A Browne for Masterson (half-time), D Leader for Carr (43 mins), M Swift for Kearney (54 mins), M Nikora for Parks (61 mins), F Bealham for Buckley (61-71 and 74 -80 mins), F Murphy for Marmion (70 mins). Not used: D Heffernan.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)

Man of the Match: Andrew Trimble

Attendance: 13, 948

 

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