Matthew Rea’s red card proved costly as Connacht claimed a first win at Ulster in 58 years with a 22-15 derby triumph, while Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh also sealed Pro14 victories on Friday.
Ulster were hammered at Munster last weekend but, with Ireland duo Rory Best and Jacob Stockdale passed fit to return at Kingspan Stadium, hoped to put that disappointing result behind them.
Connacht had other ideas, though, taking a 14-0 lead courtesy of a score from Tiernan O’Halloran – who injured his ankle in the process of touching down – and a penalty try.
Stockdale marked his first appearance of the season with a try 24 minutes in, but Ulster were down to 13 men early in the second half when Rea was dismissed for taking out Cian Kelleher in the air with Marcell Coetzee already in the sin bin.
John Cooney’s long-range penalty reduced the deficit, but a superb intercept try from Bundee Aki following a Jack Carty penalty ensured Nick Timoney’s last-gasp try was in vain.
Ulster sit third in Conference B and level on points with second-placed Edinburgh, who secured a four-try 37-21 home win over a Cheetahs side still in search of a first victory.
Brothers George and Peter Horne both touched down as Glasgow Warriors ran in five tries in a 36-8 drubbing of Zebre, propelling them eight points clear at the top of Conference A.
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