However, Ulster hit back almost immediately, when a superb move involving Paddy Jackson, Darren Cave, Jared Payne and Andrew Trimble was finished off by Stuart Olding.
It got even better for Ulster on 11 minutes when Ruan Pienaar slipped the offload of the season to Andrew Trimble and the Ulster winger crossed in the corner for his 10th try of the season. That score saw Trimble equal the ten tries that he scored in the 2007-2008 season.
The home side hit back with a well-worked try of their own shortly after. A knock-on on the Ulster 22 gave Connacht a scrum in the middle of the pitch. They worked the ball wide and winger Vaikikolo went over. A Parks conversion tied the game at 15 points all.
Ulster got their third try of the night eight minutes before half-time. Rory Best rumbled over on the blindside after a superb rolling maul from the Ulster pack. Pienaar added the extras to give Ulster a seven point advantage at half-time.
Half Time - Connacht 15 Ulster 22
A Miah Nikora penalty reduced the gap between the sides to four points shortly after the interval.
But Ulster secured their fourth try and the bonus point with ten minutes remaining. Substitute, Iain Henderson, made a superb run, brushing away Connacht tackles with ease. He offloaded to Tommy Bowe and he got the score. The try saw Bowe enter the history-books as the first ever player to score 50 tries in Celtic League rugby.
The records continued as Paul Marshall came off the bench to win his 100th cap.
Jared Payne rounded off a great night for the men in white when he ran clear down the right wing to score Ulster's fifth try of the game.
Ulster now play Cardiff at Ravenhill knowing that a win will secure a home Play-Off place in the RaboDirect PRO12. Tickets for that game are available here.
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Gavin Duffy (capt), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Mata Fifita, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Johann Muller, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Peter Nelson.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Barrie O'Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Sean Flannery (Ireland)
Citing Commissioner: Eugene Ryan (Ireland)
|Connacht Rugby Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|