Ulster showed character in win over Ospreys - Les Kiss
ULSTER 9 OSPREYS 7
Guinness PRO12 leaders Ulster left it late to beat Ospreys as Paddy Jackson's 79th-minute penalty secured the hosts a 9-7 victory.
Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss said that his side showed character as the Ospreys physicality in the tackle area made it difficult for Ulster.
"Ospreys were very good tonight. Their physicality around the tackle area, we just didn’t get a hand on it all night,'' said Kiss.
"They choked us well or attempted to choke us and it made it difficult for our ball carrying and we didn’t get accurate enough.
"But look, you still have to stay in the hunt, you still have to find a way to get the points that you need and that’s some of the character that we have been working on and trying to build on and I think it come though for us in the end.''
The visitors had not trailed until Jackson slotted over his third penalty of the game to continue his side's 100 per cent start to the league campaign.
The home side's last-gasp win meant the Ospreys - who scored the game's only try early on from prop Nicky Smith - fell to their second straight league defeat.
Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy believes his side deserved more from Saturday night's encounter.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t see the game out,” he said.
“We deserved more than just a point from this game. In the changing room it’s a feeling of disappointment.
“I feel we could have done more ourselves to see that game out.''
Even though they took four vital points, this was a misfiring effort from Ulster who trailed 7-3 at half-time after Smith's try had been converted by Dan Biggar, who missed a second-half drop-goal attempt.
Ulster had to deal with the withdrawal of Iain Henderson prior to kick-off with an injured elbow, with Robbie Diack coming into the starting line-up.
The visitors scored in the fifth minute when Smith barrelled over from close range after a clever kick from Dan Evans had forced Ulster to concede a lineout near their line.
Biggar converted and the Ospreys had thrown down the gauntlet to their hosts.
Ulster were shaken but gradually worked their way back into the game only for Jackson's 24th minute penalty attempt to sail wide.
The home side stayed in Ospreys' territory and a sweeping move going left saw Charles Piutau link with Louis Ludik with the South African's pass to Darren Cave being too difficult for the centre to hold.
Still, Ulster managed to come away with their first points when Jackson landed a 28th-minute penalty after Ben John was penalised for not rolling away but that was as good as it got for the home side in the first half.
On the resumption, Ulster needed a quick response and got one after Josh Matavesi's high tackle on Ludik just four minutes in with Jackson making no mistake and narrowing Ospreys' lead to one point.
They then had a golden chance to take the lead in the 49th minute only for Jackson to again hit the attempt wide.
Despite Ulster trying to turn the screw in Ospreys' half, they got nowhere and only a last-ditch tackle from Jared Payne prevented Eli Walker from scoring a break-out try in the 65th minute.
Five minutes later Ulster breathed a sigh of relief after Biggar's drop goal went wide, and it took another last-ditch hit, this time from Ludik, to haul down Tom Habberfield short of making the right corner soon after.
It looked like they could not possibly salvage a result but the in the closing minutes Cracknell was penalised - it seemed harshly - for not rolling away and Jackson put Ulster in front.
Over at at the Arms Park in Wales, Cardiff Blues lost their unbeaten record in the Guinness PRO12 as Leinster came from 10 points behind to win 16-13.
Blues' disappointment was compounded by the loss of three forwards, Sam Warburton, George Earle and Taufa'ao Filise, who all departed with injuries.
Gareth Anscombe was Blues' star scoring a splendid individual try, which he converted in addition to kicking two penalties, but Leinster secured victory as Johnny Sexton kicked three penalties and converted Rhys Ruddock's try.
Meanwhile a clinical Munster side racked up seven tries in a 49-5 demolition of an outclassed Zebre in their one-sided Guinness PRO12 clash at Thomond Park.
Munster had the bonus point in safe-keeping by half-time after scoring four tries in the opening half. They added three more touchdowns, with CJ Stander completing a brace, to make it four wins in five league outings.
All seven tries were converted, four by fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal and the final three from replacement Ian Keatley who passed the 1,000-point career mark for the Irish province.