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Louis Ludik scores twice as Ulster dominate Dragons at the Kingspan

John Cooney fist bumps his colleagues /Getty

Ulster made it three wins from three in the Guinness PRO14 after running in six tries to claim a bonus-point win as they beat the Dragons 40-17 at the Kingspan Stadium.


The foundations of the victory, played behind closed doors, were laid in a dominant opening half when the Irish province had already bagged their try bonus and led 35-3.

Louis Ludik crossed twice in that opening 40 minutes with John Cooney kicking conversions for all five of Ulster’s tries, with the other scores in the opening half coming from Marcell Coetzee, Eric O’Sullivan and Sean Reidy.

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Ulster’s unique position pays dividends

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Ulster’s unique position pays dividends

But Ulster’s dominance did not continue after the break when tries from Ashton Hewitt and a last-minute Jamie Roberts score saw the Dragons at least win the second half 14-5 on the scoreboard, Ulster’s only points after the break coming from an Alan O’Connor try.

Only four minutes in and Coetzee surged over for Ulster after the home side had stolen a Dragons throw and Cooney converted.

Sam Davies then cut Ulster’s lead five minutes later with a penalty shortly after Rhodri Williams had made a dangerous break.

Ulster’s second try came from O’Sullivan after the Irish province surged off a lineout, with Cooney converting the prop’s 15th-minute effort.


Reidy was involved in the build-up for Ulster’s third score, which came in the 26th minute, before the flanker drove over the Dragons’ line with Cooney again converting to put the home side 21-3 ahead.

The bonus-point score now looked inevitable and two minutes later Ulster had it when Ludik dived over in the left corner, Cooney adding a superb conversion from the touchline.

He did the same two minutes from the break when Ludik scored his second after a great Ulster attack which allowed the Irish province to end the half leading by 35-3.

The second half was by no means the same one-way traffic and there were no scores until the hour when Ulster – with Matt Faddes in the bin and multiple substitutions breaking the Irish side’s rhythm – were unable to prevent Ashton Hewitt from scoring, the try being converted by Davies.


O’Connor got Ulster moving again following some good approach work by the home team’s pack as he dotted down for the Irish province’s sixth try, although Bill Johnston missed the conversion.

The game ended with Roberts smashing through from close ranger and Davies converting.


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Flankly 3 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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