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Les Kiss' side trailed for 70 minutes as the Southern Kings came tantalisingly close to their first GUINNESS PRO14 victory, but first half tries from Sean Reidy and John Andrew, coupled with second half scores from Andrew again, John Cooney, Andrew Trimble and Clive Ross, kept Ulster in touch throughout before Robbie Diack secured the points in the dying minutes.

Ulster go into the three-week international break in second place in Conference B on 28 points, six behind the Scarlets, while the Kings pick up their first two points of the campaign thanks to their five-try tally and the seven-point loss margin.

Craig Gilroy's inclusion was one of 10 changes to the side that lost to Leinster last Saturday, with full-back Charles Piutau and out-half Christian Lealiifano the only backs to retain their places. The province's record caps holder, Trimble, returned to the left wing, Louis Ludik and Darren Cave teamed up in midfield, and Cooney was back at scrum half after injury.

An all new-front row of Andrew Warwick, hooker Andrew and Wiehahn Herbst lined up ahead of the returning Kieran Treadwell and Alan O'Connor, who was retained at lock from the Leinster game. Flanker Matthew Rea was the only new addition to the back row where he partnered captain Chris Henry and eventual man-of-the-match Reidy.



Winless in seven games since joining the PRO14 and without a single losing bonus point to their name, the wind-backed Kings enjoyed the early possession and belied their low standing with a try from centre Berton Klaasen within four minutes.

Better still from the hosts came three minutes later, out-half Oliver Zono grubbering through for full-back Yaw Penxe to pick up and dive over in the corner. A third try should have followed on 12 minutes, winger Michael Makase spilling the final pass as he bore down on the Ulster line.

A shell-shocked Ulster struggled to get out of their 22, with a knock-on five metres from their line not helping their cause, and only intense defending and another knock-on from the Kings eventually got the visitors out of trouble.

The Ulstermen hit back on the cusp of the second quarter, with a sublime team try originating all the way back at their own try-line. Piutau and Lealiifano made the early metres, before quick recycling from Trimble and Cooney caught the Kings cold and number 8 Reidy took over with a strong grounding.



Zono's penalty restored the Kings' lead to 10 points after 23 minutes, but as Ulster began to impose their authority on the match, front rower Andrew forced his way over at the base of a rolling maul.

No sooner had play restarted than a fine run from Cave came to an abrupt end with a misplaced pass, and Makase took full advantage as he outpaced Piutau to his own kick through to just touch down before the Kiwi full-back, making it 22-10.

Back on the attack, another Ulster rolling maul - this one starting right on the Kings 22 - got their forwards to within two metres and, as play was spread from right to left, a deliberate knock-on from Penxe saw the Kings reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.



Ulster spurned their chance from the resulting penalty, but had enough time before the break to launch three further raids on the home defence, all of which the South Africans defended manfully.

Playing with the wind at their backs in the second half, Ulster soon got into their groove and opted once more for the lineout and rolling maul with a 46th-minute penalty. Cooney soon made it to the line to ground the ball, but a collision with referee Quinton Immelman en route to the whitewash meant the try could not stand.

The tide had turned, however, and the next rolling maul paid dividends once again as Andrew registered his second try of the afternoon. The Kings had barely time to catch their breath before Piutau and Trimble combined incisively on the left to find Ludik, whose perfectly-timed pass inside fed Cooney for the bonus point score and a 22-all scoreline.



The Kings grabbed their own bonus point on 62 minutes, Klaasen emulating Andrew's feat with a close range touchdown, converted by Zono.

The Ulster response was instant, replacement prop Ross Kane just held up over the line by Klaasen in the 64th minute, before a pinpoint penalty to touch from Lealiifano crafted the space for Cooney to connect with Trimble, whose well-timed run, with Bowe tying in two defenders, saw him dart in under posts.

With eight minutes remaining, quick hands got replacement Ross stretching over for try number six and the first Ulster lead in the match - 36-29 - but once again the Kings refused to roll over and Penxe sneaked in for his second score with seven minutes left to play.

However, the drama was still not done, and that man Piutau was once again the architect, as he burst down the right wing in the 75th minute and supplied the supporting Diack who crashed over for the decisive try on his native soil.

Lealiifano's conversion put Ulster seven points in front with only a couple of remaining, but the never-say-die Kings continued to press late on. They were eventually undone by an overthrow at their own lineout as they hunted for a last-gasp leveller.


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