Ulster comeback too little too late against Scarlets
Welsh side were reduced to 14 men for 27 minutes in total during second period
Ulster’s Paul Marshall kicks the ball clear during Scarlets defeat. Photograph: Ian Cook/Inpho
Scarlets 22 Ulster 12
Scarlets made it two Guinness Pro12 wins from two after overcoming a big Ulster side 22-12, despite being reduced to 14 men for 27 minutes in total at Parc y Scarlets.
A try from wing Hadleigh Parkes and 14 points from the boot of outhalf Dan Jones helped the home side to victory despite having forwards Peter Edwards, John Barclay and George Earle all yellow-carded by referee Andrew Brace.
Ulster, who were minus wing Andrew Trimble (hip injury), came back in the second half with a Rory Scholes try and a late penalty try.
Scarlets, who are missing seven Wales squad players, dominated much of the first half and were good for their 9-0 half-time lead through three penalties from Jones as Ulster made nine handling errors.
From the kick-off Scarlets, who had opened the season with a win in Glasgow, developed a good attacking tempo and were rewarded with a third minute penalty when full-back Steffan Evans was obstructed attempting to follow up his own kick.
After Jones converted the opening penalty, Scarlets thought they may have claimed the opening try, but TV replays showed Tom Williams had put a foot in touch going over in the right corner.
Scarlets doubled their lead on 18 minutes with a second Jones penalty after scrum-half Paul Marshall erred offside at a ruck.
And 6-0 became 9-0 on 25 minutes when Jones was successful again with his penalty kick following a dropped maul.
Such had been Scarlets’ domination that Ulster did not get any decent territory until the 30th minute, but despite a strong run from Stuart McCloskey his fellow centre Luke Marshall knocked on.
Despite an unimpressive start, Ulster ended the first half well, although they were helped that Scarlets prop Edwards was yellow-carded for an illegal tackle on 38 minutes. Scarlets received a let-off as McCloskey was wayward with the subsequent penalty kick.
Though down to 14 men it was Scarlets who grabbed the first try six minutes after the restart. Parkes went down the left from Gareth Owen’s pass after some good work by the home back-row. Jones converted to give Scarlets a 16-0 lead.
Ulster responded as Scarlets suffered their second yellow card with captain Barclay being sent to the bin.
The Northern Irishmen grabbed their first try with wing Scholes squeezing in at the left corner following some poor defence from the home side. McCloskey missed the conversion.
But Scarlets responded with a fourth Jones penalty after Ulster infringed at a scrum. The score saw the home side lead 19-5 after 63 minutes.
Ulster came right back into the reckoning when they were awarded a penalty try after some concerted pressure. It also saw replacement lock Earle become the third Scarlet in the bin. With seven minutes remaining the Scarlets were clinging on to a 19-12 lead.
Victory was secured for Scarlets when they were awarded a penalty in the final minute and Aled Thomas made no mistake from the tee.
Scarlets: Steffan Evans; Hadleigh Parkes, Regan King, Gareth Owen, Tom Williams; Daniel Jones, Aled Davies; Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Peter Edwards, Tom Price, Lewis Rawlins, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay.
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rob Evans, Will Taylor, George Earle, Rory Pitman, Kieran Hardy, Aled Thomas, Ioan Nicholas.
Ulster: Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rory Scholes; Peter Nelson, Paul Marshall; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring (capt), Wiehahn Herbst, Peter Browne, Franco Van der Merwe, Roger Wilson, Willie Faloon, Nick Williams.
Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Robbie Diack, Clive Ross, David Shanahan, Sam Arnold, David Busby.
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)