Bowe back with a bang as Ulster enhance top-four hopes


Tommy Bowe marked his long-awaited return from injury with two tries as Ulster moved back ahead of Scarlets in the race for a Pro12 top-four finish.

Bowe was finally able to make his first senior appearance of the season against Zebre on Saturday, having recovered from the knee injury he suffered in Ireland's Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina last October.

And the British and Irish Lions wing wasted little time in getting back on the scoresheet as Ulster ran out 47-17 winners at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

The first of Ulster's seven tries came courtesy of Bowe after 12 minutes and he added another after the interval. Fellow Ireland international Jared Payne went one better, crossing three times in quick succession either side of the interval.

As a result of their bonus-point win in Italy, Ulster now sit two points clear of fifth-placed Scarlets, who were thrashed 46-10 at home by Glasgow Warriors, with two rounds to go.

Finn Russell was the star of the show for the Warriors, scoring two tries and adding a further 11 points from the kicking tee as the visitors moved a step closer to securing a top-four berth.

Glasgow briefly moved up to second in the table, only to be replaced in that position when Connacht ran in 29 unanswered points to beat Munster 35-14.

Connacht, who are now level on points with leaders Leinster, trailed 14-6 before turning things around, Niyi Adeolokun with two of their four tries.