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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 20th December|
|19:05||Cardiff Blues vs Ospreys|
|19:05||Ulster vs Zebre|
|19:35||Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso|
|19:35||Edinburgh vs Leinster|
|Saturday 21st December|
|17:00||Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|19:15||Munster vs Scarlets|
|Thursday 26th December|
|14:00||Scarlets vs Ospreys|
|15:05||Edinburgh vs Glasgow|
|17:00||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Cardiff Blues|
|Friday 27th December|
|19:15||Munster vs Connacht|
|Saturday 28th December|
|15:00||Benetton Treviso vs Zebre|
|18:45||Leinster vs Ulster|
|Wednesday 1st January|
|14:05||Cardiff Blues vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|18:05||Glasgow vs Edinburgh|
|Friday 3rd January|
|19:05||Ulster vs Munster|
|Saturday 4th January|
|15:00||Zebre vs Benetton Treviso|
|15:00||Connacht vs Leinster|
|15:00||Ospreys vs Scarlets|
|Saturday 8th February|
|15:00||Benetton Treviso vs Scarlets|
|15:00||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Edinburgh|
|15:00||Glasgow vs Connacht|
|15:00||Zebre vs Leinster|
|15:00||Ulster vs Ospreys|
|15:00||Munster vs Cardiff Blues|
|Saturday 15th February|
|15:00||Connacht vs Edinburgh|
|Saturday 30th November|
|Leinster 36 - 19 Scarlets|
|Benetton Treviso 26 - 26 Cardiff Blues|
|Zebre 11 - 19 Ulster|
|Friday 29th November|
|Edinburgh 43 - 10 Connacht|
|Newport Gwent D'gons 14 - 18 Munster|
|Ospreys 16 - 28 Glasgow|
|Sunday 24th November|
|Benetton Treviso 20 - 21 Leinster|
|Saturday 23rd November|
|Cardiff Blues 10 - 31 Munster|
|Connacht 21 - 24 Scarlets|
|Ospreys 30 - 20 Zebre|
|Friday 22nd November|
|Glasgow 8 - 23 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Ulster 41 - 17 Edinburgh|
|Saturday 2nd November|
|Munster 12 - 6 Ospreys|
|Scarlets 17 - 9 Ulster|
|Connacht 12 - 19 Glasgow|
|Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 Benetton Treviso|
|Friday 1st November|
|Edinburgh 25 - 23 Zebre|
|Newport Gwent D'gons 19 - 23 Leinster|
|Saturday 26th October|
|Leinster 16 - 13 Connacht|
|Friday 25th October|
|Edinburgh 20 - 13 Benetton Treviso|
|Glasgow 6 - 13 Munster|
|Ulster 39 - 21 Cardiff Blues|
|Ospreys 40 - 17 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Zebre 16 - 16 Scarlets|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stuart Barnes with skysports.com