Ulster edge out Connacht in an incredibly tight affair
The Sportsgrounds were packed on a cold night in Galway as both sides battled for supremacy20:20 Saturday 26 December 2015, 20:20 26 Dec 2015
A resolute Ulster defence was the platform on which this victory was built, as Les Kiss' side repelled wave after wave of Connacht attacks throughout the game.
Pat Lam will be disappointed that his side were unable to capitalise on their pressure, particularly early in the game as they drove up the field with the crowd in full voice on a cold night at the Sportsground in Galway.
Without being spectacular or forcing turnovers, the defence did their job and held up to sustained pressure from the Westerners, and when they did eventually provide an opportunity for the first score of the game to take place, Craig Ronaldson was unable to provide the accuracy needed as he skewed his kick wide of the mark.
Paddy Jackson made no such mistake, and despite Connacht stepping up with their own big hits, it was the penalty that separated the two sides at the break as Ulster went in to the dressing room with the scoreboard reading 0-3 in their favour.
Ronaldson had a chance to draw things level in the second half, which he also missed, and he wasn't to get another chance to make amends as AJ MacGinty entered the fray. The USA international drew Connacht level in the 63rd minute, with a tense kick that once again brought the crowd to life.
The score reflected what had been a very tight affair up to the point, which was backed up by the stats after the game. One of the sides was going to need either a piece of brilliance or a touch of luck, and it was Ulster who got it.
Nick Williams was able to touch down between the posts after Luke Marshall, who had seen yellow earlier in the game, broke off a scrum, charging down the field before finding the number eight who had barged over the line.
Jackson nailed the easy conversion to give Ulster a convincing lead with just two minutes left on the clock, and Connacht could not find anything in their tanks to fight back.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
That win makes it four on the trot for Ulster, leaving them three points behind Connacht and four behind leaders Saracens.
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