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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Connacht end season last as Ulster add to West's misery

Ulster secured eighth place in the Magners League with a thumping six-try bonus point win (41-10) in their final game over Connacht, who finish bottom of the table for yet another season.

Tries from Simon Danielli, Ian Humphreys, replacement Andi Kyriacou, Ian Whitten, Dan Tuohy and Jamie Smith brought the home side back-to-back league wins.

It finishes off what has been a disappointing season for Brian McLaughlin's squad, although they were too strong for Connacht on their coach Michael Bradley's last game in charge.

The only low point was a suspected ankle injury to Rory Best, which saw the Ireland hooker leave the field early in the second half and could have an impact on Ireland's tour to New Zealand and Australia.

Connacht out-half Ian Keatley opened the scoring with an early penalty, and the visitors stayed in the lead for the first 20 minutes after Humphreys missed a straightforward penalty.

Ulster, though, grabbed the lead after winger Danielli somehow got on the end of his own kick through, but Humphreys couldn't convert.

The Ulster out-half made amends for his early miss with the boot when he got on the end of a charge-down off Keatley and stepped inside the scrambling Connacht defence to dot down at the posts, and then managed to add the extras to give Ulster a 12-3 lead.

Keatley was then wide with a rather hopeful 51m penalty effort and Ulster looked comfortable until just about the last play of the half when prop Ronan Loughney powered over Ulster's line from a lineout.

Keatley's conversion ensured that the western province trailed Ulster by only two points at the turnaround -- 12-10.

However, Ulster struck first after the restart when Best's replacement, Kyriacou, barged over after a great surge from winger Andrew Trimble.

Humphreys nailed the conversion to give Ulster a 19-10 lead, and five minutes later they sealed their bonus point when centre Whitten burst through the Connacht midfield and scored under the posts.

Humphreys took advantage of the straightforward conversion to put Ulster 16 points ahead, then stretched Ulster's lead to 29-10 with a penalty four minutes before the hour mark.

At the end, second-row Tuohy was put clear by replacement prop Bryan Young, with Humphreys adding the extras, before a miserable night for Connacht was compounded when Smith made it into the left corner in injury-time to heap more misery on the westerners.

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