...Ulster out-half David Humphreys, who kicked 18 points, congratulates Andrew Trimble on one of his two first half tries in Belfast...
Ulster ran riot against the Borders on Friday night, scoring nine tries for a 63-17 victory - a result which saw them back to the top of the Celtic League and within reach of the title.
CELTIC LEAGUE: Friday, May 12
ULSTER 63 BORDER REIVERS 17, Ravenhill (Att: 8,932)
Scorers: Ulster: Tries: Tommy Bowe 2, Andrew Trimble 2, Andrew Maxwell 2, Stephen Ferris, Paddy Wallace, Roger Wilson; Cons: David Humphreys 6; Pens: Humphreys 2
Borders: Tries: Stuart Moffat, Simon Danielli; Cons: Calum MacRae 2; Pen: MacRae
The home side were able to break the line and score tries seemingly at will with backline duo Paddy Wallace, who came on in the early stages for Jonny Bell, and Andrew Trimble having particularly impressive games.
The win means Ulster are one point clear of provincial rivals Leinster, who play Cardiff on Sunday. Crucially, Mark McCall's men have a game in hand on their blue-shirted chasers. Ulster have games to follow against Llanelli and the Ospreys - both in Wales.
Playing their final home game of the campaign, Ulster scored nine tries while inspirational out-half David Humphreys kicked 18 points. The night was crowned when former Ireland and Lions winger Tyrone Howe, in his final season, was brought on to win his 100th cap for the home side.
Ulster did not waste time in hunting down the bonus point that would take them to the top of the League and had it in the bag after only 17 minutes in what was a frenetic half of scoring from both sides. The first half ended with seven tries on the board - five to Ulster and two to the Borders.
Winger Andrew Maxwell dotted down for Ulster under the posts - after Humphreys and Calum MacRae had exchanged opening penalties - to set the home side on their way after a great break from scrum half Isaac Boss, who was clearly out to impress with Ireland's senior and "A" squads for the summer tours being named on Wednesday (May 17). Young flanker Stephen Ferris then crossed for his try in the left corner after a lineout.
Ulster were striking at will. A first score for Trimble followed, set up by some great approach work and a beautifully delayed pass by his Ballymena compatriot Wallace. The bonus point duly arrived as Tommy Bowe ran in from 55 metres after an intercept and Humphreys added the points.
Borders responded with tries from Stuart Moffat and Simon Danielli to close the score to 29-17 but Ulster had the final say of a pulsating half when Trimble bagged his second to see Ulster lead 36-17 at the break.
The second half, which saw both sides empty their benches and give Howe his moment of glory, was a fairly scrappy affair. Ulster added the finishing touches to a great night's work with Bowe and Maxwell getting their second tries, while Wallace also made the line. Number eight Roger Wilson rubbed further salt into the Scottish side's wounds by squeezing in at the left corner, five minutes from time.
TIME LINE: 2 minutes - Borders penalty: Calum MacRae - 0-3; 4 mins - Ulster penalty: David Humphreys - 3-3; 8 mins - Ulster try: Andrew Maxwell - 8-3; conversion: David Humphreys - 10-3; 11 mins - Ulster try: Andrew Trimble - 15-3; conversion: David Humphreys - 17-3; 15 mins - Ulster try: Stephen Ferris - 22-3; 18 mins - Ulster try: Tommy Bowe - 27-3; conversion: David Humphreys - 29-3; 26 mins - Borders try: Stuary Moffat - 29-8; conversion: Calum MacRae - 29-10; 28 mins - Borders try: Simon Danielli - 29-15; conversion: Calum MacRae - 29-17; 33 mins - Ulster try: Andrew Trimble - 34-17; conversion: David Humphreys - 36-17; Half-time - Ulster 36 Borders 17; 41 mins - Ulster penalty: David Humphreys - 39-17; 45 mins - Ulster try: Tommy Bowe - 44-17; 62 mins - Ulster try: Paddy Wallace - 49-17; 67 mins - Ulster try: Andrew Maxwell - 54-17; conversion: David Humphreys - 56-17; 69 mins - Ulster yellow card: Justin Harrison; 77 mins - Ulster try: Roger Wilson - 61-17; conversion: David Humphreys - 63-17; Full-time - Ulster 63 Borders 17
ULSTER: Bryn Cunningham; Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Jonny Bell, Andrew Maxwell; David Humphreys, Isaac Boss; Bryan Young, Rory Best, Simon Best (capt), Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Neil Best, Stephen Ferris, Roger Wilson.
Replacements used: Paddy Wallace for Bell (10 mins), Tyrone Howe for Cunningham (48), Neil McMillan for Ferris (54), Kieran Campbell for Boss (57), Paul Shields for R Best, Justin Fitzpatrick for Young (both 62), Ryan Caldwell for McCullough (67).
BORDER REIVERS: Stuart Moffat; Simon Danielli, Ben MacDougall, Calum MacRae, Nikki Walker; Gregor Townsend, Brendan McKerchar; Paul Thomson (capt), Stephen Scott, Bruce Douglas, Scott Macleod, Opeta Palepoi, Kelly Brown, Andy Miller, Semo Sititi.
Replacements used: Sean Crombie for Scott, Garry Law for Danielli (both 47 mins), Charlie Hore for Townsend, Tommy McGee for Thomson, John Dalziel for Sititi (all 61), Colin Stewart for Palepoi, Johnny Weston for McKerchar (both 71).
Sin Bin: J Harrison (Ulster) (69 mins)
Referee: James Jones (Wales)