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Ulster maul their way to a valuable URC win in South Africa

By PA
(Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ulster bounced back from their defeat to Glasgow to register a 31-24 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park Stadium that tightens their grip on third place in the United Rugby Championship. Two maul tries laid the foundations for the win with replacement hooker Tom Stewart claiming both, while Stewart Moore and Harry Sheridan crossed in the second half to secure a maximum five-point haul.

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Just 71 seconds were on the clock when scrum-half Grant Williams took advantage of successive defensive lapses to accelerate over the line as part of an impressive start by the Sharks. A period of Ulster dominance followed, however, with a John Cooney penalty followed by a breakthrough at the lineout that saw Stewart touch down.

The Sharks regained the initiative when wing Thaakir Abrahams raced on to a chip ahead, evading a despairing tackle by Craig Gilroy in the process. For all their instinctive back play, the Durban-based province were proving fallible at the maul and Ulster helped themselves to a second try with Stewart once again providing the finishing touch.

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Aaron Sexton was almost over in the left corner but he was bundled into touch at the last possible moment and three minutes into the second half the visitors extended their lead through Moore.

It was an opportunistic score by the Ulster inside centre who, having seen Williams roll the ball over his own whitewash as the Sharks were about to clear their line, came around the side of the ruck and touched down.

Prop Ntuthuko Mchunu went over from close range after a series of forward carries to slash the deficit to five points, but lock Sheridan showed tremendous strength to cross despite the attention of several defenders, restoring some breathing space.

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The Sharks refused to throw in the towel and when Werner Kok broke from deep inside his own half, full-back Boeta Chamberlain was on hand to finish. Despite heavy pressure in the last 10 minutes, they were unable to unpick the visiting defence again.

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