Ulster 28 Ospreys 6
Ulster made an ideal start to their PRO12 campaign with a bonus-point win over a lacklustre Opsreys side at the Kingspan Stadium.
Man of the match Stuart McCloskey scored 13 points from a try, a conversion and two penalties while the other home side scores in a 28-6 win came from skipper Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst and Luke Marshall with the latter’s late run grabbing the maximum points for Neil Doak’s side.
Ulster, who led 15-6 at half-time, were never greatly troubled by the Welsh side who were missing a dozen of their frontliners to World Cup duty while the Belfast side have eight away.
Ulster were out of the traps quickly with a well-taken fifth-minute score from skipper Herring. It came off some quick hands from the returning Nick Williams – playing his first game since suspension last March – which propelled Willie Faloon through a gap and from the recycle, Herring charged over.
McCloskey missed the relatively straightforward conversion but made amends shortly afterwards with a penalty.
The visitors came back into it with a Sam Davies penalty after 20 minutes which was won off an Ulster scrum.
Still, the home side responded with Andrew Trimble to the fore and his strong carry from a high kick saw the ball recycled and McCloskey crash over in the right corner for an impressive score. The centre then converted and Ulster were 15-3 to the good.
Davies closed it to 15-6 just six minutes before the break with his second penalty, but the same player missed a long-range penalty early in the second half, and Ulster again got on the scoreboard with McCloskey’s strong run ending in a penalty which he slotted after 47 minutes.
Three minutes later and from an impressive lineout maul, Ulster eventually won a penalty which was again put in the corner to allow Herbst to wrestle his way over.
McCloskey missed the tricky conversion, but Ulster led 23-6, which became 28-6 in the dying minutes when Marshall scored in the left corner, with Peter Nelson missing the extras.