Gilroy magic sparks Ulster's second-half revival
Ulster 25 Scarlets 20
Craig Gilroy led a second-half revival by Ulster as they saw off Scarlets at the Kingspan Stadium last night.
A dreadful first half saw Ulster trail 13-6 before a wonderful Gilroy try on the restart was added to by Luke Marshall and Ruan Pienaar to see the hosts home. However, they will be disappointed in leaving a bonus-point try on the pitch.
In a very loose opening half, Darren Cave almost set Ulster on their way with a scything midfield break so good that none of his colleagues were on hand to take advantage.
Scarlets fly-half Steve Shingler missed a simple penalty before rattling over the opening score of the game in the 14th minute before being matched by Pienaar 10 minutes later.
Kicking, whether from ground or hand, was a bit of a lottery with swirling wind making life difficult.
Shingler knocked over his second penalty from 35 meters in the 29th minute as Ulster tried in vain to find any sort of rhythm.
Although Pienaar levelled a few minutes later, Ulster had to show their mettle with some stern tackling to thwart a lively Scarlets attack. But it was a self-inflicted wound that saw the visitors grab the opening try when an attempted Ian Humphreys pass to Gilroy near the 10-metre line was picked off by No 8 John Barclay, who trotted in unopposed under the posts.
The electrifying Gilroy brought Ravenhill alive soon after the restart with a scintillating run down the right touchline where he skipped out of four tackles before diving over for a wonderful try.
Five minutes later Ulster forged ahead for the first time when a Humphreys switch inside pass put Marshall through to score ,with Pienaar converting.
Pienaar added the third try and conversion as Ulster's transformation took them 25-13 ahead.
However, Ulster failed to nail on that bonus try with the Scarlets withstanding a few onslaughts before grabbing the final score when Christian Phillips touched down a few minutes from the end.
ULSTER - L Ludik; C Gilroy, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen (Scholes, 73); I Humphreys (Stanley, 73), R Pienaar; C Black (Warwick, 69), R Herring, W Herbst (B Ross, 63); D Tuohy (Stevenson, 69), F Van der Merwe; R Wilson (capt), C Ross (McComish, 75), N Williams.
SCARLETS - J Williams; H Robinson, R King, H Parkes, M Tagicakibau (Phillips, 55); S Shingler, A Davies (G Davies, 55) ; P John, K Owens (capt), P Edwards; G Earle (Payne, 71), L Rawlins; A Shingler ( McCusker, 40), J Davies, J Barclay.
Ref - B Whitehouse (WRU).