Ulster triumphs over Ospreys

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It was a low-scoring affair, and Ulster may well feel they got out of jail at the Kingspan Stadium as they scraped past the Ospreys 9-7 in their Guinness PRO12 clash.

Paddy Jackson's three penalties, including one just a minute from the end, ensured Ulster maintain their 100% start to the season, while the Ospreys' milestone man Nicky Smith scored their only points through a fourth minute try.

The night couldn't have started any worse for Ulster, whose defence was exposed on a couple of occasions by Eli Walker before prop Smith hammered his way over from close range.

The Ulstermen were having to do a lot of defending in the early parts of the game, with their indiscipline pinning them back in their own half, however they were able to prevent the score line from getting any worse.

Instead the hosts began to grow back into the game, both in terms of territory and possession, however they couldn't make that resurgence count as Jackson slid a penalty wide of the uprights midway through the half.

Darren Cave then passed up a glorious opportunity when, clean through on the line, he failed to hold on to Louis Ludik's pass.

Jackson did spare his blushes slightly by opening Ulster's account with his first penalty of the night, but the first half saw Ulster make too many errors leading to them heading in at the break behind.

After the break it took Jackson just four minutes to reduce the gap to one with his second penalty, and should have put Ulster in the lead five minutes later, however he pushed another effort wide.

The visiting defence were having to defend constantly, and they were continually frustrating Ulster's attacking efforts, even with the introductions of Ruan Pienaar and Tommy Bowe.

In a fleeting moment it looked like the Ospreys might turn the game on its head when their back row turned the ball over and Dan Biggar thumped the ball through only for the ever-dangerous Walker to put a foot in touch metres from the line.

They had another chance when Ulster failed to clear their lines from the resulting line-out, but Louis Ludik's excellent covering tackle on Tom Habberfield held them at bay.

And just when it looked like the game may be beyond them, Ulster forced a penalty straight in front of the posts with just a couple of minutes remaining and Jackson made no doubt of the result.

The scorers

For Ulster
Pens: Jackson (3)

For Ospreys
Try: Smith
Con: Biggar

(15-9) Charles Piutau, Craig Gilroy (Tommy Bowe 59), Jared Payne, Darren Cave, Louis Ludik, Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall (Ruan Pienaar 55); (1-8) Kyle McCall (Callum Black 57), Rory Best (John Andrew 68), Rodney Ah You (Ross Kane 59), Alan O'Connor (Kieran Treadwell 65), Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson (Clive Ross 52).

Sub not used: Brett Herron.

(15-9) Dan Evans, Jeff Hassler (Tom Habberfield 38), Ben John, Josh Matavesi, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; (1-8) Nicky Smith (Paul James 65), Sam Parry (Scott Baldwin 55), Dmitri Arhip (Ma'afu Fia 57), Bradley Davies (Rory Thornton 50), Alun Wyn Jones, James King (Tyler Ardron 50), Justin Tipuric, Dan Baker (Olly Cracknell 72).

Sub not used: Sam Davies.

Man of the Match: Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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