Pro12: Ulster 24-24 Cardiff Blues
|Pro12: Ulster v Cardiff Blues|
|Ulster (14) 24|
|Tries: Jackson, Penalty Try, L Marshall Cons: Jackson 3 Pen: Jackson|
|Cardiff Blues (10) 24|
|Tries: Warburton, Lee-Lo 2 Cons: Anscombe 3 Pen: Anscombe|
Ulster's hopes of making the Pro12 play-offs suffered a setback as they drew with Cardiff Blues in Belfast.
The Blues dominated the first half and Sam Warburton touched down but Ulster led 14-10 at the break through a Paddy Jackson try and a penalty try.
Reynold Lee-Lo darted in for two tries to put Cardiff seven points in front before Luke Marshall went over for a converted try to leave it level.
Ulster remain fourth but a win was needed ahead of a tough run-in.
The draw ended Ulster's impressive run of six straight Pro12 victories.
The Blues pressed from the start and were rewarded with a penalty from Gareth Anscombe.
Ulster's first attack resulted in the opening try on 11 minutes - Charles Piutau making the initial burst before a superb Ruan Pienarr kick sent Jackson clear to touch down before adding the extras.
Cardiff were soon dominating again and Warburton rumbled over for a deserved try on 23 minutes, with Anscombe converting to make it 10-7.
Their lead lasted just five minutes as the visitors brought down a rolling Ulster maul on the line and a penalty try was awarded - Jackson slotted the conversion.
Warburton limped off with a knee injury in a blow to Cardiff but also a possible concern for the Lions, and he was replaced by Nick Williams in his first game against the team he left last summer.
Cardiff continued to control affairs on the restart and Lee-Lo finished a fine move by darting between the posts for a converted try after 48 minutes.
Ulster levelled through a Jackson penalty but they were cut open again on the hour mark as Lee-Lo broke through and side-stepped Piutau before going over for a second converted try.
Cardiff's seven-point lead was wiped out eight minutes later when Marshall spotted a gap and sprinted over before Jackson brought the sides level.
The momentum shifted to Ulster but the Blues, who remain in eighth place, held firm to secure two points.
Ulster: Payne, Gilroy, L. Marshall, Olding, Piutau, P. Jackson, Pienaar, Warwick, R. Best, Herbst, Treadwell, O'Connor, Henderson, Reidy, Wilson.
Replacements: Stockdale for Payne (42), Trimble for Gilroy (57), Black for Warwick (76), Herring for R. Best (66), Ah You for Herbst (66), Diack for O'Connor (63), Timoney for Wilson (63). Not Used: P. Marshall.
Cardiff Blues: R. Williams, Cuthbert, Lee-Lo, Halaholo, Scully, Anscombe, L. Williams, G. Jenkins, Rees, Filise, Earle, Hoeata, E. Jenkins, Warburton, Navidi.
Replacements: Domachowski for G. Jenkins (76), Myhill for Rees (57), Assiratti for Filise (41). Not Used: Down, N. Williams, T. Williams, Shingler, Morgan.
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Assistant referees: Keith Allan (SRU) and Shane Kierans (IRFU)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (IRFU)