Stand-in Ulster captain Chris Henry admitted his side’s emotional 48-19 RaboDirect PRO12 victory over Cardiff Blues was the perfect way to pay tribute to late teammate Nevin Spence.
Ulster, with the initials ‘NS’ embroidered on their jerseys, were playing their first match since centre Spence died along with his brother Graham and father Noel in a farming accident two weeks ago.
After an immaculately observed minute's silence Ulster took a while to get out of the blocks, but fought back to lead 17-9 at half-time through tries from Mike Allen and Nick Williams.
Ulster turned on the style in the second half with Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble and Williams, again, all crossing, while returning Ireland wing Tommy Bowe ran in two tries of his own on an emotional night for the visitors.
“If you ask any player Nevin was with us out there,” Henry told the Belfast Newsletter.
“It is something that is never going to go away, but we have to use it in the best way and hopefully Nevin was proud of us.
“We have his name on our shirt now and that will stay right with us through the season.
“Everyone involved in Ulster Rugby has to take credit for the professional way we have gone about our business.
“The only thing that mattered out there was the rugby. That was the way Nevin would have wanted it.
“Seeing how the Spence family had dealt with the tragedy we could not have responded any other way that the way we have.
“Everyone involved in Ulster Rugby has to take credit for the professional way we have gone about our business.”