Pro14: Connacht 21-12 Ulster
|Pro14: Connacht 21-12 Ulster|
|Connacht (14) 21|
|Tries: Delahunt, Aki, Blade Cons: Carty 3|
|Ulster (7) 12|
|Tries: Kernohan, Murphy Con: Cooney|
Connacht completed a Pro14 double over Ulster this season with a deserved victory in a scrappy derby encounter at the Sportsground.
The hosts dominated the set-piece and tries from Shane Delahunt and Bundee Aki put Connacht in control.
It was an error-strewn Ulster display but they hit back with Angus Kernohan's try to trail 14-7 at the break.
Caolin Blake touched down to extend Connacht's lead and they easily held on after a Jordi Murphy try.
Connacht beat Ulster in Belfast for the first time since 1960 earlier this season and they were determined to bounce back after last week's agonising defeat by Leinster.
After a tight opening 10 minutes, sloppy play from Ulster, who came into the match with seven wins from their last eight games, gave Connacht the initiative.
A dominant scrum laid the platform for their opening two tries with Delahunt driving over from close range on 13 minutes before Aki burst through to touch down seven minutes later.
Jack Carty converted both tries while Ulster finally found a bit of rhythm in the final stages of the first half.
It still required a mistake from Connacht wing Cian Kelleher, who spilled a Johnny McPhillips cross-field kick, to enable an alert Kernohan to pounce when the ball dropped for a converted try.
Connacht's third and final try arrived three minutes after the restart with Carty getting on the end of Kyle Goodwin's kick and passing inside for Blade to dart in.
Carty again added the extras although the fly-half missed a penalty attempt and the hour mark saw Ulster wing Henry Speight limp off with a knee injury as he ended his spell with Ulster before returning to Australia with the Brumbies.
A period of intense Ulster pressure led to a succession of penalties and Connacht replacement Ultan Dillane was yellow-carded for coming in from the side on 67 minutes.
Murphy's try came a minute later as he touch down after Ulster rumbled over from a line-out drive.
John Cooney dragged the conversion wide and Ulster never looked like denying Connacht, who move up to second spot in Conference A while the visitors remain second and 17 points behind Leinster in Conference B.
Connacht: D Leader, C Kelleher, T Farrell, B Aki, K Godwin, J Carty, C Blade; D Buckley, S Delahunt, C Carey, G Thornbury, Q Roux, S O'Brien, C Fainga'a, J Butler (capt).
Replacements: Fitzgerald for Godwin (63), Horwitz for Carty (77), Mitchell for Blade (77), McCabe for Buckley (66), Heffernan for Delahunt (54), Robertson-McCoy for Carey (41), Dillane for Roux (66), Boyle for Butler (64).
Sin Bin: Dillane (67).
Ulster: L Ludik; H Speight, W Addison, D Cave, A Kernohan; J McPhillips, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, R Herring (capt), M Moore, I Nagle, K Treadwell, N Timoney, J Murphy, M Coetzee.
Replacements: Shanahan for Speight (60), McCloskey for Kernohan (45), Nelson for McPhillips (52), O'Hagan for O'Sullivan (48), McBurney for Herring (78), Kane for Moore (48), Jones for Coetzee (46). Not Used: Ross.
Ref: Marius Mitrea (Italy).