First-half tries from Tom Stewart and Jacob Stockdale helped Ulster to a hard-fought 26-19 victory over the Bulls on what was the first game played at the Kingspan Stadium’s new synthetic surface.
Nathan Doak kicked both conversions and added four penalties to claim 16 points as the northern province made it two wins from two games.
The South Africans made Ulster battle all the way and scored tries from Gerhard Steenekamp, Sebastian de Klerk and Elrigh Louw, with two conversions from Johan Goosen.
Eight minutes in and Ulster tapped a penalty near the Bulls’ line, Stewart taking it himself and burrowing through to score.
Nathan Doak added the two extra points and then did the same on the half-hour following Jacob Stockdale’s touchdown when the winger dived over in the corner from a Tom O’Toole pass when Ulster were down to 14 men following Will Addison’s yellow card.
Five minutes later, Gerhard Steenekamp got the Bulls off the mark with a close-in drive, Goosen converted to cut Ulster’s lead to 14-7 with Addison returning just after the visitors’ seven points had been secured.
Then with the clock approaching red, the Bulls burst through the middle and worked in De Klerk clear for a smartly taken try. Goosen was wide from a difficult angle, but Ulster’s half-time lead was trimmed to 14-12.
Ulster needed to begin the new half well and did so with Doak landing an early penalty. He then landed his third penalty two minutes after the hour, making it 23-12 to the Irish province.
But the Bulls came again and from a scrum, Elrigh Louw smashed over with the try given, despite Ulster claiming it was not grounded, with Goosen converting the 68th-minute touchdown.
Ulster responded by winning two quick penalties, the first put to the corner which was lost and the second when David McCann earned a jackal off former Ulster favourite Marcell Coetzee.
Doak kicked the three points in the 73rd minute and Ulster had a seven-point lead, which they held on to despite the Bulls laying siege to the home team’s line before McCann winning another pivotal turnover to help his side take the four points.