Ulster secure much needed Pro12 win at Newport Gwent Dragons
Ulster resisted Newport Gwent Dragons' last-ditch onslaught to secure a much-needed 19-12 Guinness Pro12 victory at Rodney Parade.
The Dragons were 9-6 ahead at half-time thanks to three Dorian Jones penalties against two from Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson.
Ulster scrum-half Paul Marshall grabbed the only try of the match after the break, with Jackson converting and booting two more penalties against one final Dragons penalty from replacement full-back Jason Tovey.
The match was the first home appearance by Dragons back rower Taulupe Faletau since the World Cup and the speculation about a move to Aviva Premiership outfit Bath in the past weeks, which was ended when Wales head coach Warren Gatland blocked a transfer.
The Dragons stole the early advantage when Ulster infringed in front of their posts and Jones easily slotted home the three points.
And the home side had the only clear-cut try-scoring chance early on when they drove close to the Ulster line only to lose possession.
But the pendulum swung in the Dragons' favour when Ulster flanker Stuart McCloskey was seen to purposely shoulder-barge Jones as the fly-half was chasing a kick and spent time in the sin-bin.
What advantage the home side had from that, they did not take. Jones landed a penalty for McCloskey's infringement and then booted over a monster three points from the touchline soon afterwards.
However, Ulster stuck to their guns and saw out the 10 minutes, and got their first points on the board when Jackson landed a 20-metre penalty in front of the Dragons posts.
And when Faletau stepped into a ruck, referee Dudley Phillips awarded Ulster another penalty which Jackson slotted to reduce his side's arrears to three points at the interval.
Ulster took control after the teams returned, and centre Darren Cave nearly touched down, only denied when home scrum-half Sarel Pretorius put his leg underneath the man and ball and preventing the try.
But an earlier infringement saw Dragons skipper Rynard Landman being sent to the sin-bin and gave the Ulster pack powerplays that stretched the home defence from once side to another before Marshall found a gap to sneak over for the converted try that put Ulster in front for the first time.
The Dragons hit back, putting the squeeze on Ulster as centre Adam Warren almost scored but dropped the ball with inches to go.
Tovey booted a fourth home penalty after Irish international hooker Rory Best was sin-binned for deliberate offside at a ruck, putting Ulster just a point ahead.
Yet, into the final 10 minutes, two Jackson penalties, including one from the half-way line, put Ulster, who were firmly on the front foot, into a seven-point lead.
The Dragons pounded the Ulster line in the dying minutes as Landman fell just short of the line, and a three-minute offensive from the Welshmen was only resisted by an outstanding Ulster defensive effort to prevent a try and secure their fourth victory of the league season.