Ulster bag bonus point against hapless Kings
PRO14 REPORT: A virtuoso performance from Rob Lyttle ensured Ulster’s good form continued as they dispatched a spirited Southern Kings outfit 33-19 to enhance their play-off ambitions.
The centre scored and set one up as the Irish side ran out winners in a must-win game as they overtook Benetton to move into second place in Conference B.
A fast start saw Stuart McCloskey and Lyttle cross before Kings hit back with scores from Yaw Penxe and Ulrich Beyers.
But tries either side of the break from Marcell Coetzee, Robert Balacoune and John Andrew meant Ulster scooped maximum points – with a late score from Mike Willemse proving too little, too late.
A fierce start to the game saw constant waves of Ulster attacks being thwarted by a usually leaky Kings defence.
But it only took eight minutes for the Irish side’s pressure to pay off as McCloskey received an excellent pass from Dave Shanahan in space to finish well in the corner – and Billy Burns made no mistake with a sublime conversion.
Ulster continued to dominate even as Louis Ludik was carried off injured, with Lyttle dancing his way to the line after excellent work from Rob Herring and substitute Michael Lowry.
Kings silenced the raucous crowd with an excellent few phases of play that exemplified their strong running game as speedster Penxe scored his eighth of the season.
After the winger dotted down in the corner, Beyers’ controversial try was upheld by the TMO after the referee initially ruled it out for a knock on.
The South African took advantage of a static Ulster defence by latching onto a loose ball that came off his knee.
However, Ulster ensured they would go into the break with a comfortable lead after powerful play from Coetzee allowed the forward to score his second try of the season against the Kings.
The high intensity of the game continued after the break as both sides went close to crossing – and it took a moment of magic as Balacoune scored to ensure a bonus point for Ulster.
A line-out deep in Kings’ half saw the ball quickly switched out to the other flank, with a precise pass from Lyttle finding the winger in space.
The fourth Ulster try appeared to reignite the Kings’ offence, with Willemse crossing after a period of dominance – but Ulster sealed the win as Andrew dotted down following a scrum.
Tries: McCloskey, Lyttle, Coetzee, Baloucoune, Andrew
Cons: Burns 3, Cooney
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Penxe, Beyers, Willemse
Cons: Pretorius 2
Yellow card: Alandre Van Rooyen (Southern Kings, 67)
Red card: Tertius Kruger (Southern Kings, 67)
Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Rob Lyttle, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Dave Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Matty Rea, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Alan O’Connor (captain), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andy Warwick.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Clive Ross, 21 John Cooney, 22 Michael Lowry, 23 Angus Kernohan.
Southern Kings: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Meli Rokoua, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Bader Pretorius, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Henry Brown, 5 John-Charles Astle (captain), 4 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 3 De-Jay Terblanche, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Replacements: 16 Alandre Van Rooyen, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Lupumlo Mguca, 19 Stephan Greeff, 20 Andisa Ntsila, 21 Rudi Van Rooyen, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Harlon Klaasen.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland), Graeme Ormiston (Scotland)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
A try and an assist for Rob Lyttle earns him a well-deserved man-of-the-match award! 🌠
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) March 23, 2019