Scarlets welcomed Ulster to Parc y Scarlets for the second time in as many weeks as the Heineken Champions Cup returns to West Wales for the festive double-headers.
Scarlets get the game underway through Rhys Patchell and Ulster knock the ball on handing possession straight back to the homeside. A penalty comes Scarlets’ way and Rhys Patchell gets the scoreboard moving in the first minute.
On the five-minute mark Ulster find themselves in Scarlets territory with advantage after Scarlets are penalised offside. The Ulstermen decide to kick for the posts and scrum half John Cooney brings them back to level-pegging.
Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale runs through Scarlets defence scoring the first try of the evening in the corner. Cooney’s conversion attempt is wide of the mark but Ulster go ahead for the first time.
We enter the second quarter and Lewis Rawlins is taken for a HIA assessment after a big tackle from Sean Reidy. He catches him high and both go off for an assessment. Steve Cummins is on for Rawlins.
Scarlets step up the pace a little after that tackle and we see the forwards push in to Ulster’s 22. An attacking phase and we see the try-scoring Scarlets that we’re used to in the Heineken Champions Cup. Steff Evans crosses the line and it’s a try! Patchell adds the conversion putting the Scarlets back in front.
With only six minutes of the first half remaining Ulster get a second try through winger Henry Speight after a period of pressure in the homeside’s 22. He crosses in the far corner making it too difficult a conversion for Cooney.
The Scarlets get a foothold late in the first half but can’t turn the pressure in to points, kicking the ball in to touch. Ulster kick themselves out of the pressure position and the score finishes 10-13 at half time.
Half time; Scarlets 10 Ulster 13
Scarlets return to the field in advance of Ulster looking to get a strong start to the second half. Some positive play returns in the form of pressure for Scarlets but unusual handling errors means that Ulster keep themselves in Scarlets territory.
Ulster are awarded a scrum penalty on Scarlets’ 10 metre line despite their tighthead pulling the scrum down. They kick to the corner and set up an attacking phase with a line out on the 22. Centre Will Addison crosses under the posts and scrum half Cooney adds the conversion.
As we pass the 50-minute mark Scarlets find their mojo. Jonathan Davies gets us moving in to opposition territory. We win a scrum inside Ulster’s 22. We win the first hit out. We go again.
We run it from the base of the scrum. Phase after phase. We keep building. Great work from the forwards to win important territorial gains. We're penalised for holding on and Ulster win penalty under the posts. Ulster kick to touch and we’re back on their 10-metre line.
Johnny McNicholl gets us moving once again in the right direction. He’s got great support from his backline and winger Steff Evans gathers, spots a gap on the touchline and he’s over the whitewash for his second of the evening. Patchell adds the conversion and we’re back within three points.
Just as soon as Scarlets get back within three points Ulster hit back with a third try. They get down in to Scarlets territory, they run strongly in midfield and despite what looks like a knock on play continues. Number eight Marcell Coetzee crosses the whitewash. Captain Ken Owens protests that there was a potential knock on and we head to TMO for confirmation. He’s happy that the ball goes back and try is awarded. The wind pulls the conversion attempt across the posts.
Scarlets get back down in to Ulster territory. Johnny McNicholl gets the ball out to Steff Evans who runs along the touchline. He looks like he may make it a hat-trick but he’s bundled in to touch.
Scarlets keep building. A try comes for the Scarlets from replacement flanker Dan Davis. Dan Jones adds the conversion but the Scarlets are still a point behind.
The clock turns 80 but the Scarlets have managed to keep the game alive. We win a penalty in the shadow of Ulster’s uprights, a kick to touch hands us a line out on the 10-metre line. We make territorial gains but the Scarlets are unable to get the penalty required.
Final score: Scarlets 24 Ulster 25