Pro12: Ulster 17-15 Dragons
|Ulster (7) 17|
|Tries: Reidy, penalty try Cons: Humphreys, Jackson Pen: Jackson|
|Newport Gwent Dragons: (10) 15|
|Tries: Hughes, Meyer Con: O'Brien Pen: O'Brien|
Ulster moved to the top of the Pro12 table as a late Paddy Jackson penalty secured victory over the Dragons.
Jackson's 78th-minute kick put Ulster ahead for the first time in the game.
An Adam Hughes try helped the lively Dragons lead 10-0 before Sean Reidy's score cut the margin to 10-7 by half-time at Kingspan Stadium.
After a Carl Meyer try extended the Dragons lead, Ulster pressure yielded a penalty try but the visitors looked set to hold on before Jackson's late kick.
Jackson had hit the crossbar from a long-range penalty five minutes earlier but he held his nerve to slot the tricky winning penalty from the edge of the 22.
Victory moves Ulster to the top of the table on 41 points - one ahead of the Scarlets and Connacht - although the win did come as some cost as Stuart Olding and Peter Browne sustained suspected concussion during the game.
Olding, who only returned to action last week after a 10-month injury lay-off, appeared to be knocked out in the second half after a collision with Dragons full-back Meyer, although he was able to walk off the pitch.
After their win over Leinster last weekend, the Dragons can count themselves unlucky to have lost in Belfast after producing some enterprising running and excellent defence.
They looked to be running down the clock in the closing stages but second-row replacement Cory Hill was penalised by referee Nigel Owens for handling in the ruck and Jackson punished the indiscretion.
The Dragons had started impressively. Angus O'Brien kicked them into a 3-0 lead and Ashton Hewitt's superb run started the move for Hughes' 16th-minute try as the centre ran on to Meyer's perfectly weighted grubber kick.
Flanker Reidy's third try in as many games, after he brushed off Hewitt and O'Brien, helped cut the Dragons' lead to 10-7 at the break but the margin was increased to 15-7 on 47 minutes as the impressive Meyer burst past the Ulster defence to score.
The Dragons' advantage was cut to the minimum five minutes later as Owens awarded the home side a penalty try after Matthew Screech was adjudged to have pulled down a maul as Ulster threatened the visitors' line.
The Welsh side looked set for victory as a Roger Wilson try was disallowed for an earlier knock-on by Stuart McCloskey and replacement fly-half Jackson hit the crossbar with his 73rd-minute penalty.
But then came the late drama as Jackson kicked Ulster to the top of the table.
Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones told BBC Radio Wales: "You can't ask for much more, I was quite proud to be involved with the guys.
"To be leading after 77 minutes away in Ulster, it's very difficult to take losing after that.
"It's no good feeling sorry for ourselves, we've got to turn it round and face a Connacht side who've had one win in the last four but those defeats have been very tight and they gave the Scarlets a bit of a hiding.
"We feel we're inches away from being a mid-table team, a couple of inches here and there and we would have beaten one of the top teams away from home."
Ulster: L Ludik; C Gilroy, D Cave, S Olding, J Stockdale; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (capt), R Lutton; A O'Connor, P Browne; R Diack, S Reidy, R Wilson.
Replacements: J Andrew for Browne 56, K McCall for Black 49, B Ross for Lutton 70, C Ross for Reidy 53, N Williams for Diack 43, P Marshall for Olding 66, P Jackson for Humphreys 40, S McCloskey for Ludik 40.
Dragons: C Meyer, A Hewitt, A Hughes, A Warren, H Amos, A O'Brien, C Davies; P Price, E Dee, B Harris, M Screech, R Landman (c), B White, N Cudd, E Jackson.
Replacements: B Stankovich for Price 57, S Knight for Harris 64, C Hill for White 67, J Benjamin for Jackson 33.
Not used: R Buckley, S Pretorius, GR Jones, N Scott.