Mike Lowry on the charge. Ashley Crowden/INPHO

Ulster remain on track for URC quarter-finals after strong second half against Scarlets

Richie Murphy’s side ran in four second-half tries to head home with a full bag of five points.

Scarlets 20

Ulster 31

RICHIE MURPHY’S ULSTER side are still on track for a quarter-final place in the URC after picking up their third win out of four games against Welsh regions his year.

Not only that, after a thoroughly indifferent first-half, the Ulstermen picked up the pace and ran in four second-half tries to head home with a full bag of five points. Now they face two derby matches to complete their regular league campaign.

They host Leinster before finishing up against Munster in Round 18 at Thomond Park. It promises to be some finish to settle the top eight.

Having been forced to defend for much of the opening quarter, the visitors found themselves trailing to two Sam Costelow penalties before John Cooney got one back in the 27th minute. That gave them some confidence and three times the Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi decided Ulster forwards had been held up over the line before he blew for half-time.

On two of those occasions it was back row man Cormac Izuchukwu who was denied, the one on the stroke of half-time looking more like a try than not.

It was still anyone’s game as the second half started at 6-3, but Murphy obviously had some choice words in the interval. When Ulster reemerged they were a different side – more direct, more positive and more ruthless.

They were also helped by the fact the Scartlets lost two key players to yellow cards in the final five minutes of the first half. Taine Plumtree went for tapping the ball out of the hands of John Cooney, while Gareth Davies departed for a trip.

Before they had both returned, Ulster had scored two tries. They started with a 60 meres break up the right touchline that forced the home side to defend a line out five metres out from their line and turned that position into a try for Stuart McCloskey three minutes after the restart.

All they had to do was get the ball into the wide, unguarded open spaces against 13 men and McCloskey cut back against the grain to score at the posts. Cooney added the extras and then improved a close range try by No 8 Nick Timoney before Davies returned.

tomi-lewis-is-tackled-by-jacob-stockdale Tomi Lewis of Scarlets is tackled by Jacob Stockdale of Ulster. Ashley Crowden / INPHO Ashley Crowden / INPHO / INPHO

That created some breathing space on the scoreboard and David McCann’s effort in the 55th minute allowed Cooney to add two more points to make it 24-6. Now it was a race to the bonus-point, although before Ulster got there they conceded a try to home No 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu which Costelow improved.

Jacob Stockdale grabbed the fourth try for the extra point with an overlap score on the left wing – his eighth try of the campaign. Cooney hit the target again to make it an 18 point lead.

Back came the Scarlets with a breakaway try for speedy wing Tomi Lewis. Costelow’s conversion closed the gap at least, but it was another defeat for the off-colour Scarlets this season.

Scarlets scorers:

Tries: C Tuipulotu, T Lewis

Cons: S Costelow 2

Pens: S Costelow 2

Ulster scorers:

Tries: S McCloskey, N Timoney, D McCann, J Stockdale

Cons: J Cooney 4

Pen: J Cooney

SCARLETS: I Nicholas; T Lewis, J Williams, E James (I Lloyd 52), R Conbeer; S Costelow, G Davies (K Hardy 56); K Mathias (W Jones 56), R Elias (captain, S Evans 56)), H O’Connor (S Wainwright 56), M Jones (B Williams 63), J Price (D Davis74), T Plumtree, D Davis (J Taylor 52), C Tuipulotu (S Williams 68).

ULSTER: M Lowry; E McIlroy, W Addison, S McCloskey (S Moore 65), J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney (N Doak 65); E O’Sullivan (A Warwick 67), R Herring (T Stewart 70), S Wilson (J French 21), K Treadwell (H Sheridan 59), A O’Connor (captain), C Izuchukwu (D Ewers 56), D McCann, N Timoney (R Crothers 59).

Referee: G Gnecchi (Italy).

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel