ULSTER, SITTING TOP of the Pro12 table, are at Rodney Parade for the first of three games tonight.
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Newport Gwent Dragons 19-46 Ulster
18.49 – Welcome along to one of two Pro12 liveblogs we are bringing you this evening. Munster host Italian newcomers Zebre at 7.45pm but before that, we focus our attention on Rodney Parade, South Wales. Ulster sit top of the standing after five games played and are paying a visit to second-from-bottom, the Newport Gwent Dragons. Just 15 minutes until we get underway now.
18.51 – The team news goes something like this: Captain Johann Muller is injured so will be replaved by Louis Stevenson in the second row, while Craig Gilroy comes in on the wing and Tommy Bowe’s switch to full-back means Jared Payne misses out after a fine start to the season.
Ulster: T Bowe; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy; R Pienaar, P Marshall; T Court, R Best, D Fitzpatrick; L Stevenson, D Tuohy; I Henderson, C Henry (c), N Williams. Replacements: N Brady, C Black, J Afoa, M McComish, R Wilson, P Jackson, L Marshall, J Payne.
Dragons: T Prydie; W Harries, A Hughes, A Tuilagi, T Chavhanga; L Robling, J Evans; O Evans, S Jones (c), N Buck; A Jones, R Sidoli; T Brown, J Groves, T Faletau. Replacements: S Parry, N Williams, D Way, I Nimmo, N Cudd, L Davies, S Jones, P Leach.
18.54 – Chris Henry, stand-in skipper for the night, was talking to our very own Patrick McCarry earlier this week.
We go about our business well and are never complacent,” he told TheScore.ie. “That’s where you can slip up. The Dragons are a difficult side to play at home and they certainly won’t make it easy for us.”
19.06 – The players are emerging from the tunnel so we’re about to get going. Obviously we’d love you to stay with us for the evening, but the game is also live on BBC.
19.08 – And we’re underway…
19.10 – The Dragons are awarded the early penalty after Iain Henderson handles on the ground.
19.12 – Dragons 3-0 Ulster – And the home side take the lead as Tom Prydie kicks successfully.
19.17 – Ulster respond with an attack but only make it as far as the 22. Minutes later, Nathan Buck wins possession before Will Harris shows a turn of pace with a break.
19.20 – Dragons 6-0 Ulster - Another penalty conceded by Ulster, this time it’s Henry penalised for not releasing. Prydie steps up and kicks over an easier one than his first.
19.22 – And we have our first scrum of the evening. Dragons win the ball and clear into the hands of Tommy Bowe.
19.25 – TRY Ulster! Dragons 6-7 Ulster Great work from Nick Williams, then Dan Tuohy, before Tom Court picks up and strides under the post. Ruan Pienaar adds two more.
19.31 – Prydie misses the target from a penalty, then Pienaar gets a chance to put some breathing space between the sides with one of his own – but kicks left of the mark.
19.34 – Dragons engage too early first time around, then the scrum goes down again. Finally, a penalty is given against prop Nathan Buckley for binding on the arm and Pienaar is up.
19.36 – It looks good but pulls his effort across the posts and behind.
19.39 – TRY Dragons! Dragons 13 Ulster 7 – After a sustained period of pressure, the hosts eventually find the gap and it’s Samoan Andy Tuilagi who bursts through. Prydie is successful with the conversion and Ulster are behind.
19.43 – TRY Ulster! On the attack from the lineout, Nick Williams picks up and goes by three opponents to touch down. That’s his third try of the season and a great response from the visitors.
19.46 – Dragons 16-14 Ulster - On 36 minutes, Prydie lines up an attempt from the halfway… and it’s good!
19.49 – TRY Ulster! Dragons 16-19 Ulster Tremendous work by Pienaar. The South African tries the grubber-kick but finds Prydie. He continues his run, however, and blocks down the clearance. It bounces favourably and he’s in for Ulster’s third try of the half.
19.54 – Half-time: Dragons 16-19 Ulster
Court goes over for Ulster’s first try of the night. Credit: INPHO/Huw Evans
20.08 – Dragons 16-22 Ulster – We’re back and straight away Ulster earn a penalty. No mistake from Pienaar this time as he puts six points between them and their Welsh opponents.
Rory Best has been replaced by Nigel Brady, meanwhile.
20.12 – A Strong run from Iain Henderson there, who has been named in Decland Kidney’s Irish squad this week. For the Dragons, it’s Toby Faletau off for Nick Cudd and it looks like he’s injured an ankle.
20.16 – Ulster, just one try away from the bonus point now, break through Paul Marshall on the blindside. He offloads to Andrew Trimble but a handling error by Henderson and the chance is lost.
They win a penalty from the scrum, though.
20.18 – Dragons 16-25 Ulster – Pienaar, going for his eighth kick at goal, is successful for the fifth time tonight as Ulster extend their lead.
20.20 – Dragons 19-25 Ulster - They’re still within touching distance here after Prydie fires over.
20.21 – Nick Williams off, Roger Wilson on.
For the Dragons, Adam Jones and Steve Jones leave and are replaced by Sam Parry and Ian Nimmo.
20.26 – More changes to report as Mark Anscombe gives Luke Marshall and John Afoa some game-time. The pair departing are Declan Fiztpatrick and Paddy Wallace.
20.29 – TRY Ulster! Dragons 19-32 Ulster – Darren Cave skips by Patrick Leach and Ulster have their bonus point with a fourth try. Pienaar gets his conversion just inside the post.
20.32 – TRY Ulster! Dragons 19-39 Ulster - Super interception from Trimble who runs half the length of the pitch unopposed before scoring. 20 points between the teams now and there’s no way back for the Dragons.
20.33 – Henderson has done his work and is off for Mike McComish.
20.36 – Dragons go on the offensive but Trimble stops Cudd with a big hit. They continue to make ground and are a couple of metres out. Dragons scrum.
20.40 – They may be well in front but Ulster are still working hard here.
20.50 – TRY Ulster! Dragons 19-46 Ulster – Jared Payne, on as a substitute, gets try number six after Ulster had been threatening but let themselves down with a couple of unforced errors. Pienaar’s kick is good.
20.53 – Final score: Dragons 19-46 Ulster
And the Ulster Express steamrolls past another team to make it six wins on the trot. Against better opposition, some of their mistakes would have been punished but Mark Anscombe will be happy to see them score six tries and continue the unbeaten run. Next up is Edinburgh at Ravenhill on Friday.
That’s it from me but Sean is taking in Munster v Zebre, which still has a half hour to play. You can join him here.