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Connacht outshine lacklustre Ulster

jmcconnell 29 Dec 2005

The visitors had led 12-7 at the break, making use of a hefty wind advantage in wet conditions, but failing to put any of their potent backs in try-scoring opportunities.

Mark McCall´s side did make the better start – Humphreys landed a 30-metre penalty after only three minutes.He repeated the trick, this time from just inside his own half, on 17 minutes to push Ulster 6-0 in front.Despite their lead, Ulster were being pushed off the ball by their seemingly hungrier opponents and Connacht deservedly got in for the opening try, five minutes later.

Following four phases close to the visitors´ line, one of which saw hooker John Fogarty just held up, flanker Lacey was hauled over the line in a pushover drive.Fly-half Slemen converted for the lead but Humphreys whacked over his third and fourth penalties on 30 and 35 minutes to hand Ulster a five-point buffer.

The second half was just six minutes old when the Irish-qualified Slemen shimmed over in the right corner for Connacht´s second try.The westerners pilled on the pressure up front and Chris Keane switched play out to the blindside where Slemen had enough gas to beat his man.

The conversion was missed but Slemen added the extras to winger McPhillips´ try, 10 minutes later. This time the Connacht backs laid the platform, Keane sent Matt Mostyn haring through a gap, the former Ireland international did well to take the ball one-handed and McPhillips looped up on his outside to collect the pass and score his 17th league try in three seasons.

It was a shrewd score and Ulster heads further dropped when Slemen kicked a subsequent penalty for 22-12. The visitors, in slumping to their third straight defeat, did get close to nabbing a try in the final quarter.

They were helped when Connacht number eight Colm Rigney was sin-binned, two minutes from the end, for a ruck offence, but the home defence held out.