Scarlets welcomed Ulster, and the home support, to Parc y Scarlets on Friday evening for the first home game in over a month.
The clash against Ulster is the first of three against the side in the next four weeks with the Northern Irish side our European back to back opposition in rounds three and four of the Heineken Champions Cup.
After a disappointing defeat to Edinburgh in the last round the Scarlets kept a choke hold on Ulster in Round 9 securing, not only a home victory to keep the solid record alive, but also a bonus point win to move back in to second position in Conference B.
The opening fifteen minutes is scoreless with Ulster keeping Scarlets in their own half despite the home side enjoying a decent share of the possession.
Scarlets get up in to Ulster’s 22 after a grubber kick from Johnny McNicholl and chase from Kieron Fonotia forces Ulster in to touch. A line out sees Scarlets ship the ball wide, the attacking phase looks promising but crossing by number eight Uzair Cassiem sees the possession handed back to Ulster who kick down field.
Ulster get back in to Scarlets territory, Henry Speight makes the hard yards before passing back inside to the scrum half who crosses the whitewash. Fly half Billy Burns adds the conversion.
Scarlets soon hit back with a penalty from Dan Jones after Ulster are penalised on their own 10 metre line.
Great work from Scarlets forwards. Will Boyde wins the ball at the top of the line out, solid support from his pack, Ed Kennedy makes a break for the try line but slips. Plenty of support, ball is recycled with Werner Kruger claiming the try! Jones adds the conversion.
Jones keeps the Scarlets playing in the right area of the field with kicks to the corner. A kick to the North East corner gives Marc Jones an opportunity to throw to the line. The ball is won at the top, we go on the attack through the forwards. The ball is shipped wide and Asquith spots a gap. He’s over the line. Referee heads to TMO to check for blocking. Try disallowed.
We head back to the North East corner. Jones kicks us to touch. It’s another line out and we go again. We remain patient and a try comes for centre Kieron Fonotia with only a minute of the first half remaining. Jones’ conversion just skims in front of the upright.
Half time: Scarlets 22 Ulster 7
Daf Hughes has replaced Marc Jones at hooker for the second half with Dan Davis remaining on for the inured Ed Kennedy.
Only five minutes in to the second half and we’re making decent progress in to Ulster’s 22. McNicholl makes a break as he dances around their defenders, making it look easy. We get a line out throw in and build from the set piece. The forwards do a great job in edging us ever closer to the try line and Kruger crosses for a second. Referee says it’s held up. No try.
We have a foothold in the game as we head towards the hour mark. We’re down in Ulster’s 22 continuing to pile the pressure on the opposition. A scrum and line out gives us the opportunity to challenge their defensive line but errors see us not capitalising with points.
A high tackle on Johnny McNicholl is checked by TMO but there are no repercussions for the perpetrator. Jones kicks us to the corner. A strong try scoring opportunity goes amiss as we lose the ball forward.
Scarlets remain composed. We win a penalty for an Ulster error and Jones kicks us to the corner.
Hughes throws in, we claim the ball, pass the ball through the hands and once against the forwards show their strength. We move ever closer. Inch by inch. The composure is there. The ball is sent across the line to the far side and Tom Prydie, making his return to action for the first time since early October, crosses in the corner. Jones with a very good kick from the touchline adds the conversion.
Ulster get back down field and capitalise on a lack of concentration from Scarlets to score their second try. Replacement scrum half Johnny Stewart crossing the line whilst Scarlets replacement scrum half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is off receiving treatment for a cut on his head, only minutes after coming on for Hardy.
Scarlets keep the pressure on Ulster in the final ten minutes of the game and despite a late comeback by the opposition in the final seconds of play Scarlets kept them away from the whitewash and brought the game to a close happy with the five points.
Final score: Scarlets 29 Ulster 12
Man of the Match: Kieron Fonotia