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Ulster win takes them back to the top

jmcconnell 20 Mar 2006

Ulster climbed back to the top of the Celtic League with a 24-17 triumph over the Dragons at Ravenhill.

The victory was the Irish province’s fifth in a row and added to the Dragons’ woes away from home where they have won only once in their last 18 games in all competitions since October 2004.

Fly-half David Humphreys once again proved to be the key for the title-chasers after weighing in with 14 points thanks to a try, penalty and three conversions.

The hosts powered into a 24-10 half-time lead during the first period but failed to produce the same results after the break.

In the end The Dragons grabbed a bonus point with a late Hal Luscombe try, superbly converted by Craig Warlow despite having to spend the majority of the second half down to 14 men.

The visitors took the early advantage with a penalty from Warlow but Ulster soon rallied and deservedly notched the first try of the game when a trunover led to Humpreys feeding Bryn Cunningham for the opening five-pointer.

Humphreys had added the conversion before an attacking lineout soon produced the second try.

After a catch and drive, Humphreys put Jonny Bell through a gap in the midfield and he found Tommy Bowe who skipped in under the posts.

Another conversion from Humphreys took Ulster’s lead to 14-3.

The visitors refused to let the game get away from them and when a Humphreys clearance was charged down, the Dragons recycled before hooker Steve Jones went over in the corner.

Anpther excellent Warlow conversion reduced the deficit to ust four points.

Humphreys soon extended that advantage, chipping over the top of the on-rushing defence before chasing the ball and sliding over the line.

Their lead was stretched even further just before the break when Humphreys took advantage of an infringement by Steve Jones to slot another three points and ensure the 24-10 half-time lead.

Ulster continued to dominate after the break and some desperate defending from the Dragons resulted in Gareth Baber being sent to the sin-bin as Neil Best went close.

Subsequently Matt McCullough and then Roger Wilson were also held up over the line, and this time, with Baber back on the field, skipper Jason Forster was sent to the bin as his side illegally repelled the Ulster attack.

Errors littered the latter stages of the half and sweeping changes were made but the Dragons got their act together when Ceri Sweeney put Hal Luscombe clear for a try.

Warlow again added the difficult conversion to ensure the Dragons collected a losing bonus point.

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