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Full Time: ULSTER 30 -12 DRAGONS
18.58 – Good evening and what about ye.
You’ve joined us in loads of time for kick off.
Bit of team news just in. Paddy Wallace is on his way to Paris as cover for Jonathan Sexton.
In his place, Nevin Spence will wear 12 in Belfast and Michael Allen gets a place on the bench.
What do you think, will Ulster be stronger with Spence in the side?
19.29 – Halfway through the first half now and two flashes of luck/brilliance have the hosts in a comfortable lead. The Dragons have dominated and will be disappointed that their efforts have them nine points down.
Tonight they are looking to end a 10-game losing streak away from home, an uphill struggle from here.
19.40 – Another penalty sails through the posts from Tovey. John Afoa, as captain, is getting a talking to from the referee.
But, quick as you like, the scrum roulette rolls their way – Williams penalised for bringing down Afoa – and Pienaar cancels out Tovey’s score with three easy points.
19.45 – Referee Carlo Damasco is feeling the pressure.
He awarded the Dragons a free kick after they threw the ball in crooked. Luckily, the touch judge corrected him and he sheepishly apologised.
20.09 – A scrappy opening to the second half here, neither side looking after the ball.
The Dragons look after it a bit too well through six or seven phases and go from left to right without gaining a yard. A crossing penalty pins them back into their 22.
20.13 – Ulster still in second gear, allowing the Welsh side dictate the play.
Slippy conditions not helping matters either any kick over the top brings messy ball.
Paddy McCallister comes into play loose head for the hosts, Calum Black the man withdrawn.
20.27 – Oooh, Simon Danielli almost seals a bonus point, but the touch judge says the ball had hit the line from Humphreys’ kick through.
20 minutes left for the home side to get that magic fifth point (presuming a win is in the offing) which would put them within two points of Munster in fourth place.
20.37 – Ulster escape. Dragons are camped in the 22, but the make a mess and knock on from a five meter line out. Marshal produces a fine clearance kick to halfway.
Ten minutes to go here and both teams are chasing their own bonus.
20.56 – In the end, the outgoing coach will have to be pleased with the five points and McLaughlin will need more of the same during the Six Nations if he is to sign off this season with a Pro12 semi-final or final.
However, this was a match won by a couple of flashes of inspiration, aside from that the Dragons were the side who looked like having control. Low on confidence though, they looked toothless once they reached Ulster’s 22.
21.01 – Meanwhile, across the water, it’s gone a bit pear shaped for Connacht, they trail the Blues 22-10.
That ding-dong encounter in Murrayfield is being shaded 14-15 by the Ospreys.
21.10 – Ian Humphreys giving it the old spiel about boardroom decisions not affecting players – even when your big brother is director of rugby, Ian?
His reaction to the result and the performance to RTE was:
“Tonight was pretty ugly at times but we have five points – no the best performance but we move on.”