Ulster left to rue ill-discipline as Scarlets dominate in Wales
Ulster were brought crashing back down to earth as a late rally failed to reel in the Scarlets in west Wales.
There was little sign of the power and physical dominance that had characterised the opening night win over the Ospreys as a Hadleigh Parkes try and 14 points from the boot of fly-half Dan Jones maintained the Scarlets winning start to the campaign, despite the hosts having three men sin-binned.
The visitors rallied through Rory Scholes’ try and a penalty score, but they were made to pay for a poor first-half display which included nine handling errors and ill-discipline which allowed the Scarlets to build a lead they never relinquished.
Teenage fly-half Jones kicked two early penalties, either side of a ruled out try for wing Tom Williams as Rory Scholes cover tackle forced his opposite number into touch.
Jones extended the lead when Ulster needlessly pulled down a driving maul, before the visitors finally made inroads into the Scarlets 22 through Stuart McCloskey only for a knock-on to derail the attack.
The sin-binning of prop Peter Edwards for an illegal tackle on Nick Williams at least gave Ulster reason for hope upon the resumption, although McCloskey managed to miss the resulting penalty from straight in front of the posts.
But any optimism quickly faded when Jones’ missed pass helped work Parkes over in the corner. Aaron Shingler and James Davies made the inroads in midfield, laying the platform to cut out the Ulster midfield to give the wing an easy finish.
However, Ulster kept coming, with John Barclay and George Earle heading to the bin, and Scholes did superbly to beat two tackles and finish in the corner.
A penalty try then revived hopes of a dramatic late comeback, but it was not to be as Aled Thomas knocked over a late penalty.
Scarlets: Evans; Williams, King, Owen, Parkes; Jones (Thomas 79), A Davies; John (Evans 58), Phillips (Myhill 79), Edwards, Price (Taylor 39- 48), Rawlins (Earle 52), Shingler, J Davies, Barclay © (Pitman 75).
Sin bin: Edwards 38, J Barclay 53, G Earle 73
Try: Parkes Conversion: Jones Penalties: Jones 4, Thomas
Ulster: Ludik; Gilroy, L Marshall, McCloskey, Scholes (Arnold 79); Nelson, P Marshall; Warwick (Black 58), Herring ©, Herbst (Lutton 67), Browne (Diack 58), Van der Merwe, Wilson (Ross 58), Faloon, Williams.
Try: Scholes, penalty try Conversion McCloskey
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Attendance: 6, 061
Man of the match: Aaron Shingler (Scarlets)