Ulster – 30
Scarlets – 15
Ulster secured a four-try bonus-point win over the Scarlets at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast which has provided the northern province with a real chance that they can qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Heineken Champions Cup.
A stop-start first-half saw Ulster go in with a 10-3 break thanks to a try from Iain Henderson but they stepped it up a gear in the second 40 to heap more misery on the Scarlets who look a shadow of the team who performed so well last year.
John Cooney got the first points of the game when he landed a penalty after Jake Ball was penalised for not rolling away after a tackle on Rory Best.
Ulster’s maul proved to be a crucial weapon in their victory and it was this setpiece which eventually led to their first try of the game.
A series of penalty advantages from dominant mauls ultimately led to Wyn Jones going to the sin bin when he played the ball illegally from the deck when Ulster were just inches from the line.
On the next phase of play Rory Best was held up over the line but from the resulting 5m scrum, Ulster got the try their performance up to that point deserved when Iain Henderson crashed over from close range.
With halftime approaching, Rhys Patchell was able to get his side off the mark with a penalty as Ulster went into the interval with a 10-3 lead.
The game looked to have turned on its head just eight minutes into the second half when John Cooney threw an intercept pass when Ulster were just a few metres from the Scarlets line.
The ball was kicked ahead where Jonathan Davies was on hand to collect and slide over the line to get the Welsh side back into the game.
However, immediately after Scarlets got themselves back into a good position, Ulster replied with a try of their own and it was that man Jacob Stockdale who got his side back in front. Billy Burns provided a quality cross-field kick which Stockdale collected as he outpaced Steff Evans to get the ball down in the corner.
📅 12/12/18 – Named BBC Sport Northern Ireland Personality of Year 🏆
📅14/12/18 – Another day at the office 🏉
Jacob Stockdale does it again for Ulster 🔥 pic.twitter.com/kuyExArnLI
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) December 14, 2018
Cooney added a penalty before Ulster got their third try of the game when Henderson got over to stretch the northern province’s lead to 25-10.
Dan McFarland’s side didn’t take long to wrap up the bonus-point when a powerful lineout maul saw Ulster march towards the line before Cooney peeled away to get over the line.
With a 30-10 lead, Ulster were cruising and the Scarlets were only able to muster a late consolation score when Tom Prydie got on the end of a nice grubber-kick to dive over in the corner.
Ulster are now level with Racing 92 on points in Pool 4 with the French side set to take on Leicester Tigers this weekend.