Pro12: Ulster 25-0 Connacht

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI

Ulster made it five wins out of five at the start of the Pro12 by beating their Irish interprovincial rivals Connacht.

The home side led 17-0 at half-time thanks to a penalty try, a Nick Williams touchdown and a penalty and two conversions by Paddy Jackson.

Jackson added a further penalty after the break and Luke Marshall scored his side's third try two minutes from time after a fine attacking move.

Ulster remain top of the league, with a match in hand over their rivals.

Connacht, whose coach Eric Elwood revealed during the week that he would be leaving his post at the end of the season, lie ninth.

Prior to kick-off, the crowd of more than 10,000 observed a minute's silence in memory of former Ulster player Nevin Spence, who recently died in a farming accident, along with his father Noel and brother Graham.

The Ulster pack dominated the early stages and when Connacht were penalised for collapsing the scrum, Jackson knocked over an 11th-minute penalty.

The home side produced some enterprising attacking play but a combination of handling errors and a stubborn Connacht defence combined to prevent them from crossing the line.

Referee George Clancy sent Connacht flanker Dave Gannon to the sin-bin for a deliberate obstruction in the 31st minute and Ulster were awarded a penalty try after a series of infringements by the visitors three minutes later.

Jackson knocked over the conversion to make the score 10-0.

Dan Parks had the chance to reduce his side's deficit after Dan Tuohy was penalised for tackling a player without the ball, but the fly-half saw his penalty strike the upright.

In first-half injury-time Williams barged over the line with the help of his skipper Johann Muller, Jackson again adding the additional two points.

The third quarter of the game failed to produce a score but Jackson kicked his second penalty of the game after 60 minutes to extend his side's lead.

An uninpsiring second half was marked by a raft of substitutions, including the departure of Ulster number eight Nick Williams with a rib injury.

As the game appeared to be petering out, replacement Marshall completed a flowing move involving Paddy Wallace, Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne to cross the line for the third try of the game with two minutes remaining.

Wallace kicked to the right wing where Bowe collected, before offloading to Payne, and the full-back passed to Marshall, who dived over.

The Pro12 programme makes way for the first rounds of fixtures in the Heineken Cup over the next two weeks, with Ulster facing Castres in Belfast next Friday night.

Ulster: J Payne; T Bowe, D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble; P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, R Best, J Afoa; J Muller (c), D Tuohy; S Ferris, C Henry, N Williams

Replacements: R Herring for Best (59), C Black for Court (69), A Macklin for Williams (75), L Stevenson for Muller (67), M McComish for Ferris (67), M Heaney for P Marshall (72), L Marshall for Jackson (69), C Gilroy for Trimble (67).

Connacht: .R Henshaw; T O'Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; D Gannon, W Faloon (capt), G Naoupu

Replacements: D Buckley for Wilkinson (41), N White for Loughney (35), J O'Connor for Faloon (56), D Moore for Marmion (56), M Nikora for Parks (66).

Not used: J Harris-Wright, J Muldoon, M Fifita.

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