Tuesday 25 July 2017

Wallace gives dire Ulster sole bright spot

Paddy Wallace gave Ireland coach Declan Kidney a nudge with a try-scoring performance in Ulster's resounding Magners League defeat to the Scarlets.

Ireland centre Wallace touched down in the 42nd minute in an abject display by the Irish province in Llanelli. The Scarlets stormed into a 15-0 lead through tries from Andrew Fenby and man-of-the-match Tavis Knoyle before Ian Humphreys finally got the visitors on the scoreboard with a penalty.

Wallace pounced just after the interval, but the joy was shortlived for the Ulsterman when Rhys Priestland crossed for the home side's third try. David Pollock and Ryan Caldwell were sent to the sin-bin in the second half to compound the misery on Brian McLaughlin's men as the defeat leaves Ulster adrift of the end-of-season play-offs in sixth place.

The visitors started on the front foot with outside centre Darren Cave making a swift midfield break inside the opening minute, but the bright start evaporated when the Scarlets scored the opening try in the third minute.

Nigerian-born Joe Ajuwa was held up five metres short by out-half Humphreys but quick service from Knoyle and slick handling between Priestland and Regan King allowed Fenby to open the scoring with a converted try. Humphreys spurned a presentable drop-goal opportunity in the 15th minute and the home side took advantage when skipper David Lyons found Knoyle who fended off the weak tackling of Dan Tuohy and Andrew Trimble to cross in the right corner.

Out-half Priestland failed with the conversion but made amends on 26 minutes when his close-range penalty sealed a healthy 15-point lead in a half of total dominance for the hosts.

But Ulster were handed a lifeline at the stroke of half-time when Humphreys hammered home a long-range penalty after Priestland was penalised by Scottish referee Peter Allan.

A brief comeback was on the cards as Isaac Boss and BJ Botha forced their way towards the try-line before Wallace finished off the period of attacking threat by crashing over. Humphreys missed the conversion from the left touchline but Ulster hit the self-destruct button three minutes later when Pollock was caught offside and shown the yellow card.

Priestland scored his second penalty and sealed victory with a solo effort on the hour mark before Caldwell compounded his side's misery when the lock became the second Ulster player to be sent to the sin bin with 11 minutes remaining.

Scarlets -- D Newton; J Ajuwa, R King, J Davies, A Fenby; R Priestland, T Knoyle (M Roberts 75); I Thomas (P John 68), K Owens (M Rees 49), D Manu, L Reed (R McCusker 65), D Day, J Turnbull, D Lyons (Capt), R Pugh (J Edwards 70).

Ulster -- J Smith; T Nagusa (S Danielli 49), D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble; I Humphreys (N O'Connor 60), I Boss; T Court (B Young 61), N Brady, B Botha, E O'Donoghue (R Diack 65), R Caldwell, D Tuohy, C Henry (Capt), D Pollock (W Faloon 65, A Kyriacou 76).

Ref -- Peter Allan (SRU).

Irish Independent

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