Pro 14: Ulster 59-10 Southern Kings
|Ulster (21) 59|
|Tries: Gilroy 3, McCloskey, McPhillips, Lyttle 2, Treadwell, Cave Cons: Cooney 7|
|Southern Kings (3) 10|
|Try: Klaasen Con: Janse van Rensburg Pen: Banda|
Craig Gilroy scored three of Ulster's nine tries as they trounced Southern Kings in a one-sided Pro14 encounter at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.
Wing Rob Lyttle crossed twice, with Stuart McCloskey, Johnny McPhillips, Kieran Treadwell and Darren Cave also touching down for the dominant hosts.
The match was head coach Jono Gibbes' first in charge following the departure of director of rugby Les Kiss.
Harlon Klassen was the only try-scorer for Kings who are still without a win.
Ulster remain third in Conference B, three points ahead of Edinburgh, as they continue their bid to make the end-of-season play-offs, while the Kings are bottom of the table with just four points from 14 outings.
The game saw former Irish international Joy Neville become the first female official to referee a game in the Pro14, fly-half Johnny McPhillips make his first senior start for Ulster and lock Alan O'Connor assume the captain's armband for the first time.
The Irish province struggled to overcome the Pro14 newcomers 43-36 in South Africa in November but were always in control of this contest, stamping their authority on proceedings with three first-half tries to lead 21-3 at the interval.
Gilroy, back in the side after injury, dived over in the seventh minute and the wing turned provider for try number two when he offloaded to McCloskey, who went over for the home side's second score.
Cooney fed the ball to Gilroy to touch down a minute before half-time and the impressive McPhillips secured the bonus point when he went over soon after the resumption.
Lyttle showed strength, pace and determination to barge through the Kings defence and dive over in the corner after collecting a perfectly executed long pass from McCloskey.
Gilroy then finished off a fine passing move by the Ulster backs to complete his hat-trick, McPhillips having made the initial break to set up the try.
Lyttle ran half the length of the pitch before crashing over in the left corner for his second touchdown, before replacement Klaasen skipped over for a Kings consolation try following a fast counter-attack.
Treadwell rumbled over to dot down on the whitewash for his first ever Ulster try and Cave completed the rout by bursting through the porous Kings rearguard and surging over under the posts.
Cooney converted seven of Ulster's nine tries, with Barend Janse van Rensburg adding the additional two points to his outclassed team's sole try and Masixole Banda's first-half penalty.
Ulster's Charles Piutau and Sean Reidy came off injured in the first half, with Lyttle forced to retire hurt with an apparent hamstring injury after scoring his second try.
Ulster: C Piutau, C Gilroy, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Lyttle, J McPhillips, J Cooney; A Warwick, J Andrew, W Herbst, A O'Connor (cpt), K Treadwell, M Rea, S Reidy, N Timoney.
Replacements: R Herring, K McCall, R Ah You, M Dalton, C Henry, J Stewart, D Cave, L Ludik.
Southern Kings: M Banda, Y Penxe, B Klassen, L Vulindlu, A Volmink, M Du Toit, R Gouws; S Ferreira, M Willemse (cpt), P Scholtz, S Greeff, B De We, A Ntsila, M Burger, R Lerm.
Replacements: S Coetzee, J Smith, D van der Westhuizen, J van Vuuren, E Bredenkamp, Masimla, B Janse van Rensburg, H Klassen.