Scarlets jump above Ulster after convincing win
Dan McFarland’s side struggled up front against Welsh side
Tom Prydie of Scarlets scores a try despite the attempts of David Shanahan and Michael Lowry of Ulster during the Guinness Pro 14 game at Parc y Scarlets. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho
Scarlets 29 Ulster 12
Ulster were overtaken by the Scarlets in Conference B of the Guinness Pro 14 as they suffered a convincing 29-12 defeat in Llanelli.
Ulster’s forwards were second best against an impressive home pack in the first of what will be three meetings between these two teams over the course of the next month.
After a poor opening 10 minutes, Ulster broke the deadlock with a fine try. A neat blindside move saw centre Louis Ludik link with wing Henry Speight and the Australia international passed back inside to give scrumhalf Shanahan an easy conversion.
Billy Burns’s conversion was followed by a penalty from Dan Jones and then the Scarlets’ first try.
Jones kicked to the corner and although Ed Kennedy slipped, the ball was recycled and Kruger dived over from close range. Jones kicked the goal and Ulster were now stuck in reverse.
Only a superb tackle from Nick Timoney denied Scarlets a second try. Marc Jones’s outrageous back-door pass released Hardy, but the home scrumhalf was scragged into touch.
Scarlets did cross soon after, but Paul Asquith’s effort was ruled out by TMO Tim Hayes for obstruction in the build-up by Fonotia.
Ulster were living a charmed life, but Scarlets’ forward dominance soon paid off and it was Hardy who came up with another close-range score. There was still time for the superb Fonotia to break clear before the break for a fine try. One conversion from Jones sent Ulster to the break 22-7 down.
Scarlets had another try disallowed and Ulster centre James Hume was lucky to not be carded for a high tackle on Johnny McNicholl.
Scarlets stuck to what was working for them and they totally dominated territory. Finally, their bonus-point try arrived as with space out wide, Prydie benefitted in the right corner.
Jones kicked the goal once again and although Ulster got one back through substitute Stewart, they couldn’t get back into it as both teams unloaded their bench.
By the time the final quarter arrived, the game had long since been decided as a contest so the final 10 minutes were quiet.
It left Ulster with plenty to think about ahead of upcoming home and away Champions Cup clashes with the men from Llanelli.
SCARLETS: J McNicholl; T Prydie, K Fonotia, P Asquith, I Nicholas; D Jones, K Hardy; P Price, M Jones, W Kruger; S Cummins, D Bulbring; E Kennedy, W Boyde, U Cassiem
Replacements: D Davies for Kennedy (27 mins), D Hughes for Jones (41), D Evans for Price (62), S Hidalgo-Clyne for Hardy (63-68), L Rawlins for Bulbring (63), C Blommetjies for McNicholl 64), S Gardiner for Kruger (70), M Williams for Nicholas 71), S Hidalgo-Clyne for Hardy (74).
ULSTER: M Lowry; R Baloucounie, L Ludik, J Hume, H Speight; B Burns, D Shanahan; E O’Sullivan, A McBurney, M Moore; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; M Coetzee, S Reidy, N Timoney
Replacements: A Warwick for O’Sullivan (50 mins), I Nagle for Treadwell (50), T O’Toole for Moore (55), D Cave for Ludik (57), J Andrew for McBurney (63), J Stewart for Shanahan (63), G Jones for Timoney (63), A Kernohan for Speight (77)
Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)