ULSTER 25 SCARLETS 20
Ulster came from behind to secure another home success with a 25-20 win over Scarlets in Belfast.
Having trailed the whole way through the first half and going into the interval 13-6 down, Ulster rallied early in the second half and three quick fire tries before the hour mark saw them 25-13 ahead and the potential of a bonus point on the cards.
However, Scarlets held out to some further pressure and grabbed a late score themselves to secure a losing bonus point.
Ulster moved level on points with leaders Glasgow – who play on Saturday – but missed the chance to go top overnight by not getting what would have been a valuabler bonus point success.
The Scarlets had the stiff wind advantage in the first half and probably the majority of the territory, but they found the Ulster defence on form.
The home side looked the more creative of the two during the front 40 mminutes and will probably be annoyed not to have done better with a couple of decent opportunities.
Inaccuracies from both sides made it very start strop and it was left to the kickers to put the points on t he scoreboard for most of the first half
Scarlets outhalf, Steve Shingler registered two penalties from four attempts while Ulster scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar landed two from three.
But the Welsh side were to go in 13-6 ahead when John Barclay scored a try after intercepting a pass from Ian Humphreys to Craig Gilroy jut on half time.
Ulster made their intentions clear early in the second half.
A lovely piece of invidiual play from Irish winger Gilroy saw him beat three Scarlets players to go in for an unconveted tr on 45 minutes.
Then Rob Herring’s steal at a ruck saw Humphreys feed Luke Marshall on a lovely line for the centre to go over. Pienaar added the extras and Ulster now had the lead for the first time in the contest at 18-13.
Breaks from Giloy and Allen set up an opporutnity for Pienaar, but he was hauled down close to the line. The pack then laid siege and with a possible penalty try on the cards, it was the Ulster scrumhalf who raced in from the base of the scrum for a try. He added the extras and Ulster were 25-13 ahead after 59 minutes.
Scarlets, now seeking a losing bonus point, put some pressure on Ulster, but fluffed a lineout close to the home line and then could find no way through a typically strong defence.
It was Ulster’s turn to put pressure on but they, too, could not find the opening to grab a bonus point securing fourth try.
Instead, with the last play of the game, Scarlets secured a losing bonus point when replacement Krisitan Phillips went over for a try conveted by Shingler to complete the scoring at 25-20.
Ulster: Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Michael Allen, Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe, Roger Wilson (capt), Clive Ross, Nick Williams.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick (Black 68), Bronso Ross (Herbst 63), Lewis Stevenson (Tuohy 68), Mike McComish (C Ross 75), Paul Marshall, Mike Stanley (Humphreys 73), Rory Scholes (Allen 73).
Scarlets: Jordan Williams, Harry Robinson, Regan King, Hadleigh Parkes, Michael Tagicakibau; Steven Shingler, Aled Davies; Phil John, Ken Owens (capt.), Peter Edwards, George Earle, Lewis Rawlins, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Thomas, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne (Earle), Rob McCusker (J Davies), Gareth Davies (A Davies), Adam Warren, Kristian Phillips (Tagicakibau)