|Pre-season friendly: Wasps 31-14 Ulster|
|Wasps (19) 31|
|Tries: Hughes 3, Carr, Zhvania Cons: Searle 3|
|Ulster (0) 14|
|Tries: Timoney, Kernohan Cons: McPhillips 2|
A Nathan Hughes hat-trick helped Wasps to a 31-14 defeat of Ulster in their final pre-season friendly before the start of the new Premiership season.
The England number eight punished the lacklustre Ulster defence while Nizaam Carr and Zurabi Zhvania also scored.
Nick Timoney and Angus Kernohan both crossed the line for Ulster.
It was the Irish province’s first game under head coach Dan McFarland, who began his new job this week after his early release by Scottish Rugby.
The defeat was the second heavy pre-season loss by Ulster, who will host Scarlets in their Pro14 opener at the Kingspan Stadium on 1 September.
Wasps take early control
In response to their heavy 33-point defeat by Connacht in Galway last week, Wasps took control from the start at the Ricoh Arena.
The home side turned down a number of early kickable penalties and were rewarded as early as the eighth minute when Billy Searle’s perfectly-judged cross-field kick found Hughes in space and he dived over in the corner.
The powerful forward added his second score shortly afterwards when he took advantage of some slack defending around a ruck to power his way over.
Wasps had a third try on the scoreboard before the end of the first quarter when full-back Rob Miller’s skip pass sent Carr through a gap.
Ulster flanker Marcell Coetzee, who was making his first appearance in 12 months, was shown a yellow card as tempers flared in the 30th minute and the South African was replaced at the end of his time in the sin bin.
The home side also finished the first half with 14 men when captain Joe Launchbury was booked but the Wasps defence repelled a series of lineout mauls by the visitors to hold a 19-0 lead at the break.
Hughes completes his hat-trick
Prop Zurab Zhvania was one of several replacements introduced by Dai Young at half-time and the Georgian international soon found his name on the scoreboard when he crashed over from close range.
Ulster finally got their opening score as the final quarter began with another powerful lineout maul before moving the ball wide for Timoney to score for the second week in a row.
Hughes responded with his hat-trick score after a series of strong carries by his fellow forwards.
Ulster’s managed to get a consolation score in the final minute when Dave Shanahan made a break from the back of a maul before Kernohan finished in the corner.
Wasps: R Miller; C Wade, E Daly, J de Jongh, J Bassett; B Searle, D Robson; B Harris, T Cruse, K Brookes; J Launchbury (capt), W Rowlands; N Carr, J Atkinson, N Hughes
Ulster: W Addison; C Gilroy, S Moore, S McCloskey, A Kernohan; J McPhillips, J Stewart; E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; A O’Connor (capt), K Treadwell; M Coetzee, S Reidy, N Timoney