Second half push sees Ulster pull away from stubborn Scarlets

Northern province returns to URC winning ways with bonus point win at the Kingspan

 

Ulster 27 Scarlets 15

After so much European glory, this was back to the bread and butter for Ulster and they delivered a much needed URC result - following two league losses - which also brought them the added reward of a bonus point.

But it was by means straightforward as both sides, weakened by injuries and international call-ups, went hammer and tongs at each other in a muscular contest with little to recommend it in terms of creativity.

After a tight enough opening 40 minutes, Ulster eventually got the job done with three of their four tries being scored in the second half, though the Scarlets could have edged the affair with more accuracy.

Nathan Doak opened Ulster’s account early with a third minute penalty though this was levelled up six minutes later when Dan Jones bisected the posts.

Ulster were held up on 20 minutes after John Andrew - his first start of the season - was enveloped by Carwyn Tuipulotu amongst others.

This seemed to inspire the much-changed Scarlets’ line-up and only a Greg Jones interception prevented a score for the Welsh region.

Further problems arrived for Ulster when Craig Gilroy was yellow carded by Jaco Pyper for a dangerous looking hit on Tom Rogers - the Ulster winger looked to have had a lucky escape from a possible red - and using the extra man, the Scarlets worked Samson Lee over the line with Jones’ superb conversion putting them five in front.

Six minutes later, 14-man Ulster managed to work Angus Curtis over under the sticks after they had run a kickable penalty with Duane Vermeulen leading the charge, Doak’s conversion making it 10-10 which is how it ended at the break.

Tyler Morgan’s early break could have resulted in another Scarlets’ score only for Shaun Evans to knock on.

Then on 52 minutes, the hosts had their second try when Sam Carter broke through from close range though Doak missed the extras.

Next, Steff Evans latched onto a kick though was adjudged to be offside in the act of scoring.

The Welsh came again though and Sione Kalamafoni appeared to be held just short as they cranked up the pressure. A huge set from the resultant scrum eventually resulted in replacement prop Kemsley Mathias reaching the line.

Evans missed the conversion and the scores were tied at 15-15.

Ulster hit back in the 65th minute from Gareth Milasinovich, converted by Doak. The bonus point was secured shortly afterwards when Gilroy touched down, Doak missing the conversion.

Ulster: E McIlroy; C Gilroy, B Moxham, A Curtis, R Lyttle; B Burns, N Doak; E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; A O’Connor (capt), S Carter; G Jones, Marcus Rea, D Vermeulen.

Replacements: B Roberts for Andrew (48mins), J McGrath for O’Sullivan (61mins), G Milasinovich for Moore (7-20mins and 54mins), M Kearney for Carter (54mins), D McCann for Jones (54mins), D Shanahan for Doak (70mins), I Madigan for Burns (70mins), A Sexton for McIlroy (76mins).

Yellow card: Gilroy 27mins

Scarlets: I Nicholas; T Rogers, T Morgan, S Hughes, R Conbeer; D Jones, D Blacker; S Thomas, D Hughes (capt), S Lee; S Lousi, M Jones; S Kalamafoni, Shaun Evans, C Tuipulotu.

Replacements: Steff Evans for Rogers (27mins), J Helps for M Jones (36mins), A Shingler for Tuipulotu (44mins), K Hardy for Blacker (52mins), K Mathias for Thomas and J Sebastian for Lee (both 54mins) M Jones for Hughes (63mins), S Costelow for D Jones (70mins).

Referee: J Pyper (South Africa)

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