Ulster maintained their unbeaten start to the PRO14 season with a hard-fought 11-7 victory over Cardiff in an uninspiring game at Rodney Parade.

Michael Lowry scoring the only try and John Cooney added two penalties to secure Ulster's fourth straight win in the competition.

Rey Lee-Lo, who departed on a stretcher in the 57th minute, scored Blues' try which Jarrod Evans converted.
Willis Halaholo failed a fitness test so he was a late withdrawal from Cardiff's line-up but Ulster were able to include influential backs Stewart McCloskey and Cooney, both having been released from the Irish national squad.

Ulster, who had beaten their opponents four times in their last five encounters, dominated the opening exchanges and deservedly took a 15th-minute lead when Cooney kicked a penalty.

In response the hosts built up their first period of sustained pressure and from a line-out near half-way, a well-timed pass from Garyn Smith sent Will Boyde racing into the visitors' 22. From there Blues recycled possession for Evans to chip ahead with Lee-Lo collecting to score.

Ulster suffered a further blow when wing Louis Ludik was badly shaken in a tackle and was forced to leave the field with young Ethan Mcllroy replacing him.

Cardiff also lost a player to injury with James Botham departing with a shoulder problem to be replaced by Olly Robinson.

That change was the prelude to Ulster battering the home try-line for a continuous 13-minute siege. There was a succession of five-metre scrums and penalty awards but the visitors repeatedly declined to kick at goal.

Robinson was then yellow carded and eventually the pressure told with Lowry darting over to leave his side with a deserved 8-7 interval lead after Cooney had surprisingly missed the conversion attempt.

Four minutes after the restart, Robinson returned in time to see Evans miss with a straightforward 35-metre penalty attempt as the dour arm-wrestle continued.

The game was a succession of scrums, mauls and injury delays, with the most serious appearing to be that for Lee-Lo who was carried off on a stretcher after receiving lengthy treatment.

In the final quarter, Cooney extended his side's lead with a second penalty as Ulster recorded their second victory in Wales this season, having previously won 24-12 at Ospreys.