RaboDirect PRO12: Leaders Ulster see off Connacht in Galway
Last Updated: 19/04/13 11:17pm
Tommy Bowe grabbed a late try to help RaboDirect PRO12 leaders Ulster seal a 34-18 bonus-point victory over Connacht in Galway.
A see-saw opening quarter saw four tries shared between the Irish provinces and Rory Best grabbed Ulster's third score to give them a 22-15 interval lead.
The second half saw the scoring dry up before the visitors gave the final scoreline a rather flattering look with two tries in the closing nine minutes.
It was Connacht who had made the faster start, though, with George Naoupu running in an opportunist effort to break the deadlock after just three minutes.
Ruan Pienaar was wide with a penalty chance to reply, although the Ulster backs soon clicked into gear to create enough space for the in-form Stuart Olding to touch down.
Pienaar converted and Ulster quickly exploited space down the right flank again, the South African's deft pass sending Andrew Trimble breaking away to score in the corner.
Connacht hit back with a try from Fetu Vainikolo but after Dan Parks and Pienaar traded penalties Ulster, with their big forwards getting on top, moved back in front just before the break thanks to stand-in skipper Best.
The game was narrowed down to four points when replacement Miah Nikora converted a 49th-minute penalty.
However, Ulster came on strong in the closing stages to move clear, replacement Iain Henderson charging past two defenders before offloading for Ireland winger Bowe to finish off.
Further salt was rubbed into the Connacht wounds when full-back Jared Payne ran in a fine breakaway try six minutes later.
RaboDirect PRO12 2012/13 Round 19
Ulster will aim to finish at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table when they take on Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill.
Connacht say goodbye to their number seven Johnny O'Connor when they take on Glasgow at the Galway Sportsground.
Paul O'Donohoe's last-minute try salvaged a 23-23 draw for Connacht in Treviso.
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