Ulster 39-21 Cardiff Blues: Ulstermen show the Blues no mercy with powerful finish
Ulster stretched their winning run to four games in the league and six in all competitions after seeing off Cardiff Blues 39-21 in a valuable bonus point win at Ravenhill.
Ulster scored five tries with second row Dan Tuohy, who grabbed the first and last, crossing the line in addition to touchdowns from man of the match Jared Payne, Luke Marshall and Ireland squad reject Andrew Trimble who grabbed the bonus point score.
However, the margin of victory would have been greater if Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar had been more accurate from the tee.
There was to be no repeat of last week's European heroics from Cardiff and though they battled back several times and scored tries from Richard Smith and Robin Copeland, Ulster ultimately showed them no mercy with the power of their finishing and set-piece.
Jackson opened the scoring for Ulster after the home side had made a pulsating start with a seventh-minute penalty which was cancelled out three minutes later by Leigh Halfpenny.
But Ulster then struck for a try after Stuart Olding picked out Marshall and the Ireland centre fed Robbie Diack who in turn put second row Tuohy over after a quarter of an hour.
Jackson, though, missed the extras and did so again just after the 20th minute when a second penalty given against the Blues scrum under their own posts saw Pienaar tap and go with Tommy Bowe's looping pass putting Payne in at the left corner.
With Ulster now leading 13-3, the Blues needed a response but, again, they were penalised at a scrum and Jackson kicked the 27th-minute penalty.
This time the Blues did respond, though, and the strong-running Copeland skipped past Pienaar on the narrow side after the Blues had finally produced some sustained attacking.
Halfpenny missed the conversion but made amends five minutes later with a penalty to narrow Ulster's lead to 16-11 which is how it ended at the turnaround.
Ulster came out with all guns firing and after Olding's marvellous step and one-handed pass to Marshall, the Ireland centre drove through Halfpenny and the try was awarded via the TMO.
Once more Jackson missed the conversion but then kicked a penalty after Copeland was sin-binned on 45 minutes.
Again, though, the Blues came back and even with 14 men they kicked a penalty for the corner, won the lineout and moved the ball into space allowing Smith to score out wide. Halfpenny then nailed a great conversion to make it 24-18.
But after another huge scrum, and just before Copeland's return, Pienaar stepped up and kicked a magnificent long-range penalty to take Ulster's lead to 27-18.
Cardiff yet again managed to stay in touch through Halfpenny's third penalty just before the hour mark and then the Blues survived a penalty given against Sam Warburton when Pienaar's penalty hit the upright and stayed out.
Two minutes after the hour mark, Jackson again missed with a penalty but then after an Olding kick put the Blues back deep into their own territory, Roger Wilson launched an attack and quick ball saw Trimble put away by Olding in the corner for Ulster's bonus point.
Pienaar could not add the difficult conversion but at 32-21, Ulster had breathing space again and then in the last move of the game, Tuohy scored and Pienaar landed the touchline conversion.
Belfast Telegraph Digital