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Ulster suffer second half collapse as Saints run riot

Northampton 55 Ulster 15

By Michael Sadlier

A final hit-out before the serious stuff is upon us was never meant to evolve in this manner as Ulster were hammered out the gate at Franklin's Gardens by a rampant Northampton Saints.

The Saints ended up shredding Ulster's defence to dot down over the visiting side's line nine times with seven of their tries arriving in a particularly horrific second half for Les Kiss's side which saw them cough up 43 points.

Far from a memorable debut then for the newly arrived John Cooney - though he did create Charles Piutau's first half try and kick a penalty in the 42nd minute - and certainly not the way Marcell Coetzee wanted to return for his first action since last March when sprung from the bench with Ulster only trailing 12-8.

And with the PRO14 starting on Friday at home to the Toyota Cheetahs, Ulster now find themselves in a very uncertain looking place after this their second pre-season defeat.

Ulster's discipline also let them down with Callum Black and Chris Henry both being shown yellow cards in either half though the outcomes evolved in markedly different ways.

When Black was off, Ulster managed to work Piutau over, after good work from Cooney, but after Henry was shown yellow, the Saints ran in two quick scores to stretch their lead from 17-8 to 31-8.

After that, though, and with Nick Timoney on in place of Henry, the tries rained in with four coming in the last 14 minutes, Dave Shanahan's 76th minute effort, converted by Brett Heron, hardly being noticed.

Ulster only trailed 12-5 at the break thanks to Piutau's try but once Tom Collins had his first on 45 minutes - a minute after Cooney's penalty - it was one-way traffic.

Soon after Henry's binning Collins had his second and with the Saints emptying their extensive bench Alex Mitchell had two as did Michael Paterson while James Grayson also crossed and kicked three conversions.

Northampton Saints: A Tuala, B Foden, L Burrell, R Hutchinson, T Collins, H Mallinder, N Groom; A Waller, D Hartley (capt), K Brookes, D Ribbans, C Day, T Harrison, L Ludlam, M Eadie. Replacements: C Ma'afu, M Haywood, P Hill, C Lawes, J Craig, J Gibson, S Dickinson, B Nutley, A Mitchell, J Grayson, com.escenic.domain.index.Group@3a929f[mDescriptor=com.escenic.domain.index.GroupDescriptor@4e1455cd,mParent=ContentArea,mAreas={header-area=Header-area},mLabel=Sport 2,mValid=true,mOptions={}]K Pisi, T Stephenson, N Tuitavake, J Elliott, G Furbank, J-Pablo Estelles

Ulster: C Piutau, L Ludik, T Bowe, S McCloskey, D Busby, P Nelson, J Cooney; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst, R Diack, A O'Connor, C Ross, C Henry, J Deysel. Replacements: Z McCall, K McCall, R Ah You, P Browne, M Coetzee, D Shanahan, B Herron, A Trimble, A Warwick, J Simpson, M Rea, N Timoney, C Montgomery, P Marshall, J Owens, J McPhillips, C Patterson.

Referee: T Foley

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