Ulster got the better of the Dragons in a thriller at Rodney Parade as the defending champions maintained their run at the top of the Magners League table.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, September 9
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS 25 ULSTER 32, Rodney Parade (Att: 5,114)
Scorers: Dragons: Tries: Nic Fitisemanu, Aled Brew 2; Cons: Ceri Sweeney 2; Pens: Sweeney 2
Ulster: Tries: Andrew Maxwell, Bryn Cunningham 2, Declan Fitzpatrick; Cons: David Humphreys 3; Pens: Humphreys 2
Full-Time: Ulster survive eleven minutes of injury-time to hold on for a 32-25 victory - their second of the season. The efforts in the closing stages were typified by replacement centre Kevin Maggs who put in a bone-crunching hit on Nathan Brew.
It will have been satisfying for coach McCall to have seen his side rally from having conceded 22 points in the first half, but those errors will have to be cancelled out for next Friday's trip to Edinburgh (Murrayfield, kick-off 7.30pm).
80 mins: The Ulster defence is holding firm, with a steal by lock Matt McCullough the highlight of their brave rearguard actions.
75 mins: Ulster are predictably on the back foot now as the Welsh region put everything into trying to come back at the title holders.
69 mins: ULSTER TRY! Ulster's bonus point try falls to replacement prop Declan Fitzpatrick, whose timely support run sees him get over for his first competitive score for the province. Scrum half Campbell dummied his way through the Dragons' defensive line, carving out the opportunity for Fitzpatrick. Humphreys converts to make it a seven-pointer. Dragons 25 Ulster 32
61 mins: Ulster are looking more likely to go on and win this game. Humphreys and Steinmetz are kicking sweetly and Bartholomeusz is proving a constant threat to the Dragons' first-up defence.
56 mins: ULSTER TRY! A second score for Cunningham - great play from the Ulster backs again. Wallace almost waltzes in at the right corner, the ball is recycled with Bartholomeusz now punching holes with every attack. Steinmetz chips to the opposite flank where Cunningham is on hand, doing well to keep himself in play as he crossed the whitewash. Humphreys' conversion attempt tails away to the left. It's level pegging and all to play for. Dragons 25 Ulster 25
50 mins: An ugly clash of heads between Wallace and Dragons try scorer Fitisemanu holds up play for the guts of ten minutes. Both are off for treatment - Wallace, freshly bandaged, returns to the fray but Fitisemanu has come off worse and is put in a neck brace before being brought off to hospital. Hopefully the injury is not serious.
47 mins: DRAGONS PENALTY! Ulster's discipline lets them down as they are called offside by referee David Changleng and Sweeney sends over his second penalty. Dragons 25 Ulster 20
44 mins: ULSTER PENALTY! A spiralling cross-field kick from Humphreys has the Dragons' defence under pressure, Australian wide man Bartholomeusz rises highest to claim it and a subsequent infringement allows Humphreys to punt the province to within two. Dragons 22 Ulster 20
Second Half: Play is back underway and Ulster are straight on the front fool with a solid maul effort.
...David Humphreys goes for goal...
Half-Time: Ulster are 22-17 behind at the break. Mark McCall's side would have been in front but for a couple of defensive lapses. The pace of the Brews - centre Nathan and winger Aled - has been keeping the hosts in the game. Wallace has been an impressive figure so far for Ulster at inside centre, while young back row Ferris is maintaining his good form from last season.
34 mins: DRAGONS TRY! Ulster are made to pay for missing out on those opportunities as Dragons winger Aled Brew gets over for his second try of the evening. Craig Warlow retrieved a loose kick from his opposite number Cunningham, Charvis gobbled up the ground before releasing Brew down the touchline and he chipped ahead and grounded the ball, just ahead of the despairing Campbell. The conversion was missed. Dragons 22 Ulster 17
32 mins: Wilson is held up over the line after an inspiring lineout drive from the Ulster pack.
30 mins: Roger Wilson is hauled down short of the Dragons' line as Ulster press for their third try. Stand-in skipper Justin Harrison created the opportunity after he charged down Mike Hercus' clearance kick.
29 mins: DRAGONS PENALTY! Harrison is penalised for not rolling away in the tackle, and Sweeney sends over the penalty to draw level. Dragons 17 Ulster 17
27 mins: ULSTER TRY! Probably the try of the season so far sees Ulster retake the lead. From a lineout on the 10-metre line, Stephen Ferris makes the hard yards, spread-eagling the Dragons' defence. A skip pass sends Wallace behind the first line of defence. Bartholomeusz races up to join him and full-back Bryn Cunningham is in the right place at the right time to finish off the move to the right of the posts. A great move and great width from Ulster, with their forwards and backs combining to devastating effect. Humphreys tags on the conversion. Dragons 14 Ulster 17
24 mins: Humphreys misses a penalty shot, pulling his effort wide after his half-back partner Kieran Campbell was cynically taken out by Charvis as he tried to gather in a 22-metre drop out.
19 mins: DRAGONS TRY! Possession is back with Ulster but a loose pass by Bartholomeusz is snapped onto by Fitisemanu and the powerful Dragons number eight passes to Aled Brew, who does superbly to hack the ball on and win the race to the line for his side's second try. Sweeney's conversion has the Dragons four points in front. Dragons 14 Ulster 10
16 mins: The Dragons' attempts at coming back are not helped when they fail to find touch with two penalties.
12 mins: ULSTER PENALTY! Humphreys arrows over the resultant penalty, after a try had really looked on the cards. Dragons 7 Ulster 10
11 mins: Ulster gain a foothold in the Dragons half as Paddy Wallace makes a midfield dash, Tim Barker carries forward and the hosts are eventually penalised for being offside after a short burst from Paul Steinmetz.
7 mins: ULSTER TRY! The perfect reply from the champions. Mark Bartholomeusz and Bryn Cunningham made the initial incision on the left. Tom Court set up ruck position and then a looping pass from David Humphreys allowed lightning quick winger Andrew Maxwell the time and space to beat two defenders and cross in the corner. Humphreys adds the extras. Dragons 7 Ulster 7
4 minutes: DRAGONS TRY! The hosts get in for the game's opening try. Midfield bursts from new captain Colin Charvis and Nathan Brew sent the supporting Nic Fitisemanu in to the left of the posts - out-half Mike Hercus delivered the try-scoring pass on a plate. Ceri Sweeney converts. Dragons 7 Ulster 0
First Half: Expect a tight one - on Ulster's previous three visits to Rodney Parade, the sides have been split by eight, two and three points respectively. Ulster are wearing their regular kit of white shirts, white shorts and red socks. The Dragons, who came from 20 points down to beat Glasgow last week, are in their natty combination of black, yellow and red.
Team News: The Dragons have made four personnel changes and reshuffled their backline from last week's 24-23 win at Glasgow.
Colin Charvis makes his first start for the Welsh region and will captain the side. Ben Daly comes in at hooker for Steve Jones, who is rested, while Peter Sidoli has recovered from his foot injury to make the starting line-up.
Among the backs, Craig Warlow moves to full-back with Gareth Wyatt starting on the wing. Nathan Brew moves to inside centre while Mike Hercus makes his first competitive start for the Dragons at out-half. Academy member Alex Walker keeps his place at scrum half.
Ulster are unchanged from last weekend's 31-16 defeat of Llanelli Scarlets for their trip across the water to Wales.
That means new signings Mark Bartholomeusz, who scored the clinching try against the Scarlets, Tom Court and Tim Barker have retained their places on the right wing, at tighthead prop and in the second row respectively.
Ireland international Kieron Dawson remains on the bench despite an impressive performance in the second half against the Scarlets - Ferris, McMillan and Wilson seems a hard back row combination to knock however.
Dragons: Craig Warlow; Gareth Wyatt, Nathan Brew, Ceri Sweeney, Aled Brew; Mike Hercus, Alex Walker; Adam Black, Ben Daly, Rhys Thomas, Ian Gough, Peter Sidoli, Colin Charvis (capt), Jamie Ringer, Nic Fitisemanu.
Replacements: Kieran Crawford, Lee Harrison, Andrew Hall, Joe Bearman, Aled Thomas, Shane Stewart, Gareth Baber.
Ulster: Bryn Cunningham; Mark Bartholomeusz, Paul Steinmetz, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Maxwell; David Humphreys, Kieran Campbell; Justin Fitzpatrick, Paul Shields, Tom Court, Justin Harrison (capt), Tim Barker, Stephen Ferris, Neil McMillan, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Matt McCullough, Kieron Dawson, Paul Marshall, Kevin Maggs, Scott Young.
Referee: David Changleng (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Neil Ballard, Phil Harrhy (both Wales)