Ulster scored two tries to claim a scrappy 20-10 victory over the Cheetahs at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Saturday.
With the result Ulster consolidate their position in second place in the Conference A standings as well as extend their unbeaten streak at Kingspan Stadium to 21 games, dating back to October 2018.
The Cheetahs relinquished their place in the top three in the same conference, and are now fourth behind Leinster, Ulster and the Glasgow Warriors.
Despite being forced to make an early injury-enforced change, Ulster were able to build up pressure from the start and with eight minutes on the clock replacement prop Tom O’Toole powered over from short range for a converted try.
Flyhalves Bill Johnston and Ruan Pienaar then traded penalties as the hosts went into the break 10-3 up. Wilmar Arnoldi was sent to the bin early in the second half for the Cheetahs and then Ulster capitalised almost instantly.
Johnston executed a perfectly weighted cross-field kick and wing Robert Baloucoune plucked it out of the air to score in the corner.
Cheetahs got back into the game with 15 minutes remaining when Clayton Blommetjies pounced from a team move after Sintu Manjezi intercepted the ball, but it wasn’t enough to make a difference to the outcome of the game.
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Ulster – Tries: Tom O’Toole, Robert Baloucoune. Conversions: Bill Johnston (2). Penalties: Johnston.
Cheetahs – Try: Clayton Blommetjies. Conversion: Ruan Pienaar. Penalty: Pienaar.
Ulster – 15 Michael Lowry, 14 Robert Baloucoune, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 James Hume, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Bill Johnston, 9 David Shanahan, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Nick Timoney, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Adam McBurney, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Subs: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 David O’Connor, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Jonny Stewart, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Craig Gilroy.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Craig Barry, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (c), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Chris Massyn, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Boan Venter.
Subs: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Chris Smit.