Ulster cruise past Kings
Gavin Rich
February 09, 2018

A hat-trick of tries from wing Craig Gilroy inspired Ulster to an impressive 59-10 win over the Southern Kings in a one-side Guinness Pro14 match at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Friday night.

Gilroy wasn’t just up to score the tries that propelled the hosts into a winning lead well before the hour mark, he was also there to create one too, with the second try of the match coming from some good work from Gilroy before he passed the ball inside to centre Stuart McCloskey to score.

That was in the 20th minute and made the score 14-3 to Ulster after they’d got the ball rolling with a seventh minute try from Gilroy after a period of prolonged earlier pressure followed by the Kings’ only points of the first half, which was a penalty from fullback Masixole Banda.

The Kings, as is their wont, did put up some gutsy opposition in the first half, but it was mainly from a defensive viewpoint. Even then, they could have been accused of not getting off their line and coming up quickly enough, which often conceded momentum to the hosts.

Ulster have gone through some tough times of late and this was the first game that was presided over by new coach Jonno Gibbes. He will have been happy with his first night at the office, with nine tries being scored by his charges, although at the same time it has to be conceded that the Kings are the worst team in the competition by some distance.

The hosts led 21-3 at halftime after Gilroy added his second try just before the break, and the procession towards the tryline started soon after the restart as flyhalf Johnny McPhillips powered in for his team’s fourth try. Left wing Robert Lyttle went over in the 50th minute, and the Kings were being hopelessly outgunned.

The Eastern Cape team can at least however lay claim to scoring the try that might have been the most memorable of the game, with Harlan Klaasen rounding off a counter-attack that started on the Kings’ own tryline.

There were a couple of good touches from wing Anthony Volminck mixed with some horrible mistakes from the same player, and the pack was industrious, but once again there wasn’t too much to write home about from the Kings, who conceded their 50th point when Ulster lock Kieran Treadwill barged over, and then Darren Cave exploited some shoddy Kings defence to add a final try for good measure.

It was a good bounce back win from Ulster after a tough patch in mid-season but, as the commentators pointed out, they do have tougher matches in front of them.

For the Kings the outlook remains bleak as they are being outclassed by decent teams away from home.

Ulster's defence was much better in this game than in the first round clash in Port Elizabeth in November, when the Kings were able to score five tries.


Ulster 59 – Tries: Craig Gilroy 3, Robert Lyttle 2, Stuart McCloskey, Johnny McPhillips, Kieran Treadwill and Darren Cave; Conversions: John Cooney 7.

Southern Kings 10 – Try: Harlan Klaasen; Conversion: Bernhard Janse van Rensburg; Penalty: Masixole Banda.

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