Ulster winger Tommy Bowe was first to make a telling break during the opening exchanges, only to be hauled down at the end of a 40-metre surge. Then, midway through the half, flanker Roger Wilson applied the pressure which led to Lions scrum half Chris Cusiter being sinbinned for illegally killing the ball on the ground.
David Humphreys slotted the penalty but Ulster were unable to add further quick points. Ulster's confidence was underlined when they spurned another goal chance and opted for a catch-and-drive line-out. But the gamble did not pay off, mainly because of the excellent defence of the stubborn Reivers. Neil Best offered a glimpse of what was to come from the visitors with a gallop down the sideline before being hustled out by Ben MacDougall and Charlie Hore.
The frustrations of the home troops was clear when lock Mark Blair was warned by Welsh referee Phil Fear for lashing out at one of his former team-mates. Ulster stepped up the pace in the approach to the interval and after MacDougall became yellow card victim number two it was dangerman Best who ploughed over in the corner for the try. The conversion was from the widest possible angle, but Humphreys made it look like a formality.
Borders were struck by another setback seconds before the midway whistle as Hore fluffed a penalty opportunity at the other end. Ulster continued to hold the upper hand after the restart and it was no surprise when they created an excellent second touchdown.
They put together a series of well controlled phases following a free-kick and the Borders markers had no answer when centre James Topping latched on to the crash-ball and powered over, giving Humphreys an easy conversion close to the posts.
Humphreys widened the gap to 20 with a pinpoint penalty, which was the cue for the Scots to belatedly threaten to trouble the province's defence. Simon Danielli, Andy Miller and Kelly Brown combined well, only for MacDougall to spill the ball within a couple of paces of the line.
Flanker Scott Gray also looked like reaching the target, but again the promising work was spoiled by a soft knock-on. Borders were soon under the cosh again and substitute Andy Maxwell went within inches of claiming a third Ulster try after losing out to Nikki Walker in a hack-and-chase race.
And any prospect of a late fightback was snuffed out when substitute scrum-half Isaac Boss darted through - giving Humphreys another straightforward kick.
|Border Reivers Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|