Scarlets 24 – 25 Ulster
Ulster recorded a bonus-point victory over the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets to give their hopes of reaching the Heineken Champions Cup knockout stages a serious shot in the arm.
Two first-half tries from Jacob Stockdale and Henry Speight gave Ulster a narrow 13-10 lead at halftime. Will Addison and Marcell Coetzee both touched down in the second half to secure the bonus-point for the northern province in what was looking like a comfortable win.
However, a last-gasp try from the Welsh side gave them hope of pulling off an unlikely comeback only for a turnover from Ulster with the clock in the red to dash those hopes.
Both sides traded penalties in the opening 10 minutes and it was Ulster who got the first try of the game through Jacob Stockdale.
Will Addison made the initial break as he stepped between two defenders before passing to Stockdale. The Ulster and Ireland winger powered down the near touchline and produced a huge offload en route to scoring the first try of the game.
Ulster’s scrum began to dominate and it allowed the northern province some decent territory but they weren’t able to capitalise on this and they were made to rue this missed opportunity when the Scarlets took the lead after 26 minutes.
A penalty from a high tackle gave the Welsh side a lineout in Ulster’s half and the dominant lineout maul which ensued had the northern province back-tracking. A carry against the grain from scrum-half Gareth Davies brought play just metres from the Ulster line and the pressure finally told a few phases later when Steff Evans popped up in midfield to touch down from close range. Patchell’s successful conversion gave the home side a 10-8 lead.
The first half was characterised by mistakes from both sides and it was a costly one from Patchell which lead to Ulster’s second try of the game. The out-half kicked the ball out on the full from just outside his own 22 which gave Ulster a lineout in a promising position. Dan McFarland’s side used the setpiece to good avail as a series of powerful carries brought play close to the Scarlets’ line. With the home side struggling to get their defensive width set, Ulster spotted the opportunity and sent the ball wide to Henry Speight who dotted down in the corner.
It was Ulster who started the second half on the front foot when Addison ran a direct line to receive a pass from Cooney. Addison’s pace and directness allowed him to burst through some poor Scarlets defending to touch down under the posts to leave Ulster one try away from a bonus point.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, Scarlets got their second try of the game and it came from Steff Evans who received the crucial pass from Johnny McNicholl. The full-back sent out a reverse one-handed offload as he was tackled which allowed Evans the space to get over the line.
The Scarlets were now just three points down but Ulster secured the bonus-point five minutes later when Marcell Coetzee crashed over in the corner. The referee reviewed the passage of play for a potential knock forward but the try stood. Cooney missed the difficult touchline conversion and the northern province had a 25-17 lead.
Scarlets replacement Dan Davis touched down with less than a minute remaining which made it a one-point game. With the clock in the red, Scarlets attempted to pull off a miraculous comeback from their own half but they were undone by a superb Ulster turnover in midfield as the northern province pulled off a famous victory at a venue where they haven’t won for six seasons.