18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The match was the first for the Ulstermen since the tragic death of their young centre Nevin Spence almost two weeks ago. Those on the pitch and off it observed a minute's silence before the game in memory of Nevin, his father Noel and brother Graham.
Each Ulster jersey bore the letters 'NS' below the crest, a team tribute that will remain for the rest of the season.
Ulster sought to put in a performance that characterised the determination and will to win of the Ballynahinch clubman. That was evident from as early as the 16th minute when centre Michael Allen showed great strength to hold off the attentions of Dafydd Hewitt and score the first try of the evening.
The 21-year-old Allen, who has enjoyed a strong start to the season, unfortunately picked up an ankle injury in the process and was replaced a short time later by returning Ireland international Paddy Wallace.
Paddy Jackson converted Ulster's first try of the night having earlier kicked a penalty in response to two opening efforts from Jason Tovey, the ex-Dragon who was making his full debut for the Cardiff Blues.
Nick Williams had made the initial dent for Allen's try and he was soon celebrating a score of his own. Scrum half Paul Marshall made a great blindside break and youngster Iain Henderson made further progress before the giant New Zealander rumbled over from close range.
Jackson converted for a 17-9 advantage which Mark Anscombe's side took into the break. If the first 40 minutes were good from Ulster, the second 40 were nothing short of outstanding.
With eight minutes of the second half gone, superb handling from Jackson in midfield released Jared Payne who in turn passed to Tommy Bowe and he gleefully scored in the corner for his first try back in an Ulster jersey.
Full-back Payne then turned provider for himself - chipping the ball over the Cardiff defence before collecting to score and maintain his recent fantastic run of form.
With the bonus point secured by the 53rd minute, Ulster began to run Cardiff ragged. Bowe scored his second of the night when a flowing Ulster back-line move put him through.
A Harry Robinson score for the home side provided Cardiff with some reprieve, but the onslaught resumed a short time later.
Craig Gilroy, who was sprung from the bench, showed his quality as he covered a third of the pitch, evading at least four tackles, in the build-up to Williams' second touchdown in the 66th minute.
The Blues were unable to mount any response and it was left to Andrew Trimble to complete a remarkable night's work. The left winger raced through to score the visitors' seventh try, with Jackson converting to take his points tally to 13.
Speaking afterwards, Ulster boss Anscombe said that a solid set piece and defence laid the foundations for their biggest win of the season.
"The key things for us to be successful is having a good set piece and we have a good one that is working well at the moment," he said.
"The other key thing is having a good defence. If you are strong in defence your defence grows, your attack grows and your confidence grows.
"Those three areas have been working well and we want to continue to progress in those areas in the coming weeks."
|Cardiff Blues Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|