Ulster (17) 32 Tries: Gilroy, Pienaar, Trimble, L Marshall Con: Humphreys 3 Pen: Humphreys 2 Cardiff Blues (10) 13 Try: Fish Con: Sweeney Pens: Sweeney 2
Ulster clinch a bonus-point 32-13 win over fellow title-chasers Cardiff Blues
Ulster boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Magners League play-offs as they earned a bonus-point win over title-chasing Cardiff Blues.
Ian Humphreys set up Craig Gilroy's early try and after Dan Fish's reply for the Blues, Ruan Pienaar sniped over for a second Ulster touchdown.
Ahead 17-10 at half-time, Andrew Trimble's splendid finish in the corner put further daylight between the sides.
Luke Marshall's 63rd-minute try ensured the bonus point for the home side.
The Blues went into the game second in the Magners League table after four successive wins while Ulster's hopes for a top-four place had been boosted by last week's nail-biting win over the Scarlets.
Both teams showed attacking intent early on with Luke Marshall's break for Ulster coming to nothing after an obstruction and Cardiff then threatening the line at the other end.
But a piece of Humphreys brilliance set up Ulster's 10th-minute try as the fly-half gathered his own chip over the Blues defence after a favourable bounce and before delivering to the unmarked Gilroy.
It was youngster Gilroy's sixth try in his six-game Magners League career.
Craig Gilroy scores Ulster's opening try in Friday's game
Humphreys added the conversion and another three points from the fly-half's left boot extended the lead to 10-0.
However, the Blues immediately cut Ulster's lead to only three points as full-back Fish finished off a flowing move after some slick off-loads with Sweeney adding the extras.
The see-saw nature of the contest continued as Ulster responded with a 25th-minute try as Pienaar sniped over from close range after his pack had gone through the phases to drive deep into the Blues 22.
But Cardiff were continuing to look dangerous and Chris Henry was pressurised into conceding a penalty in front of his own posts which Sweeney gratefully accepted.
Ulster started the second half without injured try-scorer Gilroy who was replaced by Tommy Seymour and Humphreys missed an immediate chance to extend the home side's lead as he was off-target with a straightforward penalty.
But Ulster tightened their grip on the contest in the 48th minute as Trimble showed great strength to hold off Tom James' tackle to score in the corner after slick passes from Pienaar and Humphreys.
Sweeney and Humphreys kicked penalties at either end which kept Ulster 12 ahead before Cardiff were given a potential lifeline when home replacement prop Paddy McAllister was sin-binned for illegally handling on the floor after tackling a charging Rhys Downes.
But instead of retreating, Ulster attacked immediately and the bonus point was in the bag in the 63rd minute when Marshall scored his first try for the province as quick hands led to an overlap.
Ulster: Adam D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Nevin Spence, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy; Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar; Bryan Young, Andi Kyriacou, Declan Fitzpatrick; Johann Muller (Captain), Tim Barker; Chris Henry, Willie Faloon, Pedrie Wannenburg
Replacements: T Seymour for Gilroy 39, P Marshall for Humphreys 74, P McAllister for Young 40, N Brady for Kyriacou 50, N McComb for Barker 65, J Cronin for Faloon 64, TJ Anderson for Wannenburg 74. Not Used: I. Whitten.
Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish, Richard Mustoe, Gavin Evans, Dafydd Hewitt, Tom James, Ceri Sweeney, Rhys Downes, Xavier Rush, Martyn Williams, Andries Pretorius, Paul Tito (Captain), Deiniol Jones, Scott Andrews, T Rhys Thomas, Taufa'ao Filise
Replacements: T Slater for Downes 67, G Williams for Thomas 70, S Hobbs for Andrews 70, M Molitika for Tito 67. Not Used: Trevett, White, G Davies, Loxton.
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