With Connacht penalised on three minutes for repeat infringement at the scrum, Ulster posed an early threat down the left flank in the form of an Andrew Trimble charge after a good take by Ryan Caldwell at the lineout. The winger was stopped in his tracks a few metres from the line, however, and Connacht did well to steal possession in the ensuing mêlée.
Despite losing Stephen Ferris to a shoulder injury on 10 minutes, Ulster kept on the front foot, and were soon to enjoy a numerical advantage with Connacht's Ray Ofisa sinbinned for a 17th-minute trip on Trimble. Wallace slotted over the penalty from the 10-metre line to put the visitors ahead at Connacht 0 Ulster 3.
Ian Keatley levelled the score with a 22nd-minute strike of his own, and the ranks were soon even again with Paul Emerick yellow-carded for an intentional block on Fionn Carr as the Connacht winger chased his own kick. Keatley dispatched the resulting penalty to nudge his team into the lead and, with Connacht starting to take charge of the match, Ulster had Paul Marshall to thank for a timely interception behind his own try-line just before the half-hour.
Ulster responded smartly and soon drew level at Connacht 6 Ulster 6 through a second Wallace penalty which curled neatly around the left-hand upright. An off-target Keatley penalty on 36 minutes kept honours even, and on the stroke of half-time further indiscipline from Connacht - this time dissent - gave Ulster the chance to go in ahead at the break. Wallace's penalty went the same way as Keatley's earlier effort had, however, and the teams trotted off for half-time with the scores equal.
Half-Time Score Connacht 6 Ulster 6
Another Connacht infringement gave Ulster the first scoring opportunity of the second period, which Wallace put over with composure. His opposite number Keatley was on hand again in the 51stminute to equalise with a further penalty, and with Connacht pushing to stamp their authority on the contest, Ulster showed their defensive credentials with some excellent tackling, in particular from Wallace and replacement BJ Botha.
Personnel changes just before the hour mark saw Dan Tuohy and O'Connor enter the fray, liberating Wallace to return to his more familiar position of centre. With Connacht penalised for collapsing the scrum on 60 minutes, Wallace continued with the kicking duties and edged the visitors in front at Connacht 9 Ulster 12.
Trimble became the second Ulsterman to be sent to the bin after taking out Mike McComish in the air, and with Connacht keen to capitalise on their numerical advantage, Keatley drew the tie level once more on 66 minutes after Marshall had come in from an offside position.
With just over ten minutes remaining, Ulster took the lead for the fourth time, this time thanks to the boot of O'Connor, the long-distance expert striking his penalty to perfection from behind the Connacht 10-metre line. With the score sitting at Connacht 12 Ulster 15, O'Connor had the chance three minutes later to extend the lead to six points for the first time in the game, but missed by some distance.
Keatley wasted no time clawing his team back to level pegging on 75 minutes with his fifth successful penalty, but the same player's knock-on shortly after the restart gave Ulster the scrum in a promising position inside the Connacht '22'. The opportunity came to nothing, however, as the men in green soon stole possession and cleared their lines.
An awry O'Connor drop goal attempt followed as the clock ticked down, and proved to be Ulster's last chance as the game ended with Connacht pushing forward in the vain hope of finding the right position for a drop goal kick of their own. Ulster remain unbeaten, then, in the Magners League, but lose ground on early leaders Munster with two points dropped.
Full-Time Score Connacht 15 Ulster 15
(15 - 9) G Duffy, T Nathan, N Ta'auso, K Matthews, F Carr, I Keatley, F Murphy (c)
(1 - 8) B Wilkinson, S Cronin, J Hagan, M Swift, B Upton, M McCarthy, R Ofisa, M McComish
(16 - 23) A Flavin, R Loughney, R Sweeney, A Browne, S Conneely, C Willis, M Nikora, D Fanning
(15 - 9) J Smith, P Emerick, D Cave, I Whitten, A Trimble, P Wallace, P Marshall
(1 - 8) B Young, R Best (c), T Court, T Barker, R Caldwell, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg
(16 - 23) A Kyriacou, BJ Botha, P McAllister, D Tuohy, W Faloon, I Porter, N O'Connor, D McIlwaine
|Connacht Rugby Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|