So, all good so far. A third straight win with accompanying bonus point and Ulster now sit top of the table with only Munster, who play today able to nudge them aside.
And the fact that this was another of those performances with, arguably, more scuff than polish about it seems of little enough consequence.
Ulster are getting the job done and, so far, have been able to cope with their far too lengthy injury list. However, this situation now looks as if it has been very worryingly added to by prop Andy Warwick’s early departure, on Friday night, meaning that Dan McFarland has a pressing issue regarding fit loose-heads, never mind the other side of the scrum with Marty Moore having sat this one out.
And the sight of out-half Billy Burns being withdrawn at the break due to, according to McFarland, a tightening hamstring could also be a further concern.
As things stand, the URC’s five-week break for the autumn internationals, which comes in two games’ time, after October 23rd and the Irish derby with Connacht at the Aviva Stadium, could actually be a welcoming moment for McFarland regardless of what further momentum his squad may have achieved by then.
Indeed the gap in fixtures could prove more than useful in buying time should players including Jacob Stockdale, John Cooney, Jordi Murphy, Robert Baloucoune, Marty Moore, Eric O’Sullivan and Iain Henderson all remain unseen until then.
On the flip-side, of course, they are winning games and others have grasped their unexpected opportunities to play with both an abundance of promise and enthusiasm.
Nineteen year-old Nathan Doak had another influential outing on Friday, scoring two tries and kicking an unblemished four conversions to account for half of Ulster’s final total. Not bad for only his second start.
Callum Reid also merits mention in dispatches having had to go for the guts of 80 minutes, following Warwick’s early injury, and though there were some scrummaging issues, the 22 year-old earned a late penalty which ultimately carved out Ulster’s bonus point through man of the match Doak.
David McCann also put himself about with the 21-year-old back-rower involved when Ulster manufactured a neat attacking move which propelled Doak through for their second score of the evening.
Some of the rather more established players also showed their pedigree, Rob Herring reserving a big effort for his 200th game and Craig Gilroy likewise on his 196th with both managing opening half tries while Nick Timoney again put in a noticeable shift.
“We’re really happy with the result,” McFarland said.
“That was going to be a very difficult fixture for us given the context as we’re suffering a little on the injuries.”
And on the unavoidable subject of Doak, with two man of the match displays from the same number of starts the Ulster coach stated: “Nathan is a very confident rugby player and is a talented young man, but is fully aware that it’s day by day and has lots to improve on. He’s had two starts so no point in breaking out the fanfare.”
McFarland quickly insisted that the newly joined South African side the Lions, the next visitors to the Kingspan on Friday, will offer Ulster’s most formidable physical test to date.
“They’re probably bringing the biggest scrum we’ve ever played against and their maul is really strong.
“It’s going to be a different kind of challenge to us,” McFarland pointed out.
Friday night’s game only occasionally ignited into life.The pivotal moment arrived in the 17th minute when they shipped a yellow card, allowing Ulster to pile on 14 unanswered points through Gilroy’s opportunism, via Burns’ cross-kick, and Doak’s well-taken effort.
Herring’s surge through a maul made it 21-3 at the break but it took until the 77th minute before Doak collected the important bonus point score.