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Paddy Jackson was the star of the show for Ulster with his 13 second-half points helping the visitors get off the mark for the new season with an 18-7 Irish derby victory over Connacht at a windswept Sportsground.
Ulster earned their first win of the new RaboDirect PRO12 campaign as Jackson put a disappointing first 40 minutes behind him to convert his own 57th minute try and kick two penalties to decide this first Irish interprovincial derby of the season.
The sides scored a try apiece in the opening quarter hour, Ulster winger Michael Allen replying to a try from Dan Parks, whose conversion separated them at the break - 7-5.
But Connacht were held scoreless for the remainder, with man-of-the-match Iain Henderson, who saw action in the second row and back row, and replacement Paul Marshall helping Mark Anscombe's men find an extra gear in their territorially dominant third quarter.
There was precious little space in a frenetically-paced first quarter, but a brief chink of light saw Willie Faloon canter away from a ruck before Jared Payne brought the flanker down.
Connacht kept up the pressure in the 22 and after good carries from Robbie Henshaw and Fionn Carr, Parks stepped off his right and evaded the grasp of front rowers Rob Herring and Declan Fitzpatrick on the way to the line.
Parks turned it into a seven-pointer as he became the first player to score more than 1,500 league points.
Wind-backed Ulster hit back within three minutes though, as Luke Marshall bludgeoned up close to the whitewash and Payne's soft hands put Allen in at the left corner.
Jackson pulled his conversion attempt across the posts and the youngster looked slightly unsettled as he kicked out on the full. From the resulting lineout, Connacht probed and won a penalty outside the 22 which Parks narrowly missed to the right.
Henderson barrelled forward to get Ulster back on track and they teed up a penalty in a similar range to Park's. However, Jackson, who only had a 56% kicking success rate from the past two rounds, slid his effort wide.
Connacht's penalty count spiralled towards double figures - Eoin Griffin the guilty party this time at a ruck - and Jackson mopped up with the three points for a 55th minute lead.
The 21-year-old then started and finished his province's second try, sending a work-hungry Luke Marshall bursting away over halfway. Henshaw got back to bring him down but a quick recycle allowed Payne to put Jackson over to the right of the posts.
With his confidence restored, Jackson added the extras and was narrowly wide with a monster penalty effort entering the final quarter.
Connacht's indiscipline at the breakdown soon gave Jackson a kickable penalty from closer in and he found the target to leave the hosts 11 points adrift with 16 minutes remaining.
|Friday 14th March|
|19:05||Ulster vs Scarlets|
|Friday 21st March|
|19:05||Ospreys vs Cardiff Blues|
|19:15||Leinster vs Zebre|
|19:45||Edinburgh vs Ulster|
|Saturday 22nd March|
|15:00||Glasgow vs Scarlets|
|19:15||Munster vs Benetton Treviso|
|Sunday 23rd March|
|15:05||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Connacht|
|Saturday 29th March|
|15:00||Zebre vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|18:00||Benetton Treviso vs Edinburgh|
|18:30||Cardiff Blues vs Ulster|
|19:00||Leinster vs Munster|
|Sunday 30th March|
|14:05||Scarlets vs Connacht|
|Thursday 3rd April|
|18:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Edinburgh|
|Friday 11th April|
|19:05||Ulster vs Connacht|
|19:05||Ospreys vs Leinster|
|19:45||Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 12th April|
|18:00||Benetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|18:30||Munster vs Glasgow|
|18:30||Scarlets vs Zebre|
|Saturday 19th April|
|15:00||Zebre vs Edinburgh|
|15:00||Glasgow vs Ulster|
|15:00||Leinster vs Benetton Treviso|
|15:00||Connacht vs Munster|
|Sunday 20th April|
|14:00||Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets|
|16:45||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys|
|Saturday 1st March|
|Leinster 28 - 25 Glasgow|
|Scarlets 18 - 13 Munster|
|Connacht 38 - 6 Benetton Treviso|
|Zebre 15 - 10 Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 28th February|
|Edinburgh 31 - 25 Ospreys|
|Ulster 38 - 8 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Sunday 23rd February|
|Zebre 19 - 27 Connacht|
|Ospreys 11 - 25 Munster|
|Newport Gwent D'gons 24 - 23 Glasgow|
|Benetton Treviso 12 - 14 Ulster|
|Saturday 22nd February|
|Scarlets 25 - 21 Edinburgh|
|Thursday 20th February|
|Cardiff Blues 22 - 34 Leinster|
|Sunday 16th February|
|Ospreys 75 - 7 Benetton Treviso|
|Saturday 15th February|
|Munster 36 - 8 Zebre|
|Cardiff Blues 20 - 27 Glasgow|
|Connacht 11 - 7 Edinburgh|
|Friday 14th February|
|Leinster 31 - 19 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Sunday 9th February|
|Zebre 8 - 31 Leinster|
|Glasgow 8 - 6 Connacht|
|Saturday 8th February|
|Munster 54 - 13 Cardiff Blues|
|Benetton Treviso 33 - 41 Scarlets|
|Friday 7th February|
|Ulster 10 - 7 Ospreys|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stuart Barnes with skysports.com