Ulster too good for Blues
A supremely efficient Ulster performance saw them claim a 26-9 victory at Cardiff Arms Park and condemn the Blues to a second home Guinness PRO12 defeat in six days.
Fly-half Paddy Jackson outkicked Blues full-back Rhys Patchell to give the visitors a half-time lead, before tries by second row Dan Tuohy - his third in as many games - and replacement fly-half Ian Humphreys confirmed their superiority.
The Irish province came into the game as the league's top try and points scorers and soon added to their overall tally when Jackson, making his first PRO12 appearance of the season, kicked a straighforward penalty.
Ulster were grateful to new South African full-back Louis Ludik for a vital tackle on Alex Cuthbert after the Wales winger picked up a loose ball with an open field in front of him.
It needed further good defence from an attack initiated by lively home scrum-half Lewis Jones to restrict the Blues to a Patchell penalty.
Jones' speed in harassing opposite number Paul Marshall at a scrum earned another penalty, which Patchell landed from wide out to put the Blues ahead.
However, Italy number eight Manoa Vosawai was a little too keen to get involved minutes later, giving Jackson the opportunity to bring Ulster level - and Jackson was able to restore his side's lead when Blues centre Gavin Evans was guilty of obstruction.
Despite commendable attempts by both teams to keep the ball moving, there were far too many errors and another soft penalty allowed Patchell three more points before Jackson kicked his fourth to ensure Ulster were ahead at the interval.
Patchell was wide from the halfway line and then spilled a quick line-out with an overlap outside him. The resultant scrum provided Ulster with another penalty, but Jackson, too, proved fallible from long distance.
The visitors then spurned an easier kick to go to touch and their gamble paid off when Marshall put lock Tuohy through a gap and under the posts for the game's first try, improved by Jackson.
The Blues had an immediate opportunity to grab a try of their own, but Patchell's final pass was slightly behind Richard Smith and the winger was unable to hold on with the line just five yards away.
A series of misdirected passes by the Blues allowed Ulster to gain territory and it needed a fine tackle by Patchell to deny replacement Craig Gilroy.
The visitors then spread the ball left and Tommy Bowe trotted over, only to be called back when Scottish referee Neil Patterson ruled Humphreys' looped pass had gone forward.
Tremendous Irish defence held the increasingly desperate Blues at bay and eventually drove the home side back into their own 22, where a flat pass by Gareth Davies was spotted and intercepted by Humphreys, who strolled over and converted his own touchdown.