Ulster ‘A’ left it late to record a narrow 30-27 British & Irish Cup victory over the Cardiff Blues Premiership Select at Sardis Road on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardiff selection led 17-13 at the break thanks to tries from Cam Dolan and Gareth Thompson, before Ben Jones crossed early in the second half. However, Ulster 'A' replacement prop Peter Cooper crashed over for his side's third try in the closing stages to snatch the win.
Ulster 'A', who threatened initially with a superb run from Ireland Sevens squad member David Busby, opened the scoring on 11 minutes courtesy of a straightforward penalty from out-half Johnny McPhillips.
Gareth Thomspon struck back for the Blues PS on the quarter hour but McPhillips kept the visitors' noses in front after Cardiff were penalised at the breakdown.
The Welshmen went in front for the first time when Cam Dolan handed off an Ulster 'A' defender to stretch over in the 26th minute. Thompson added the extras to make it 10-6 before getting a try of his own shortly after, which he also converted to open up an 11-point advantage.
However, Willie Anderson and Kieran Campbell's charges mustered another score before half-time with back rower Lorcan Dow powering through the home defence to score by the posts. McPhillips added the extras to make it 17-13 at the interval.
Cardiff burst out of the traps in the second half when out-half Ben Jones, profiting from number 8 Dolan's interception, finished off a try barely minute after the restart. Thompson again converted before trading penalties with McPhillips.
Ulster 'A' then scored a fine try when McPhillips cleverly chipped over the top for replacement Brett Herron to collect and touch down between the posts.
The province had to absorb some considerable scrum pressure which led to prop Jonny Simpson picking up a yellow card, but the Cardiff PS could not force a penalty try and the Ulstermen eventually cleared their lines.
It was key moment in the game and the visitors seized the initiative late on, working their way up the pitch for Ulster Academy member Cooper to squeeze over in the corner and snatch a very valuable away win. The result has Ulster 'A' top of Pool 1 after four rounds, just a point ahead of Jersey Reds (13 points).
Referee: Hamish Smales (England)