Friday 6 December 2019

Scars run deep after Ulster suffer yet another mauling

Scarlets 34 Ulster 10

Kieran Treadwell of Ulster wins possesion at a lineout. Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran Treadwell of Ulster wins possesion at a lineout. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Sadlier

This season of steady descent shows no signs of losing momentum and, on Saturday evening, there could be no disguising yet another sub-standard performance as Ulster were brutally dispatched in a second half implosion of epic proportions in Wales.

The Scarlets racked up 31 points after half-time to claim a bonus point win while Ulster managed a meagre three and this after the visitors had actually headed into the changing rooms leading 7-3.

John Cooney of Ulster. Photo: Sportsfile
John Cooney of Ulster. Photo: Sportsfile

Jono Gibbes cut a downbeat figure after watching his side cough up four tries in 37 minutes with Ulster's bench having no positive impact at all on the game.

"It was 7-3 at half-time and we'd had a try disallowed," Gibbes said though he admitted that Nick Timoney's ruled-out effort wasn't a factor in the tide turning.

"We felt like we knew what needed to be done and talked about the things that were going to make a difference in the second half.

"We were going to try and put them under pressure," the Kiwi added. "I thought the Scarlets were fantastic in the second half and they were certainly clinical when they put us under pressure and we didn't react to that pressure well at all."

Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes. Photo: Sportsfile

After being gifted Stuart McCloskey's second minute try, Dan Jones's cross-kick being easily cut out by Tommy Bowe, Ulster played with a reasonable amount of confidence and direction.

But there had been errors and these only grew from the start of the second half.

Winger Ioan Davies got over first with Jones superbly converting and though John Cooney tied things up with a 50th minute penalty, the Scarlets already scented blood.

Debutant winger Ryan Conbeer then scythed past Chris Henry, McPhillips and Louis Ludik for a magical solo try out of nowhere to extinguish Ulster's challenge.

Four minutes after the hour Jones created for centre Paul Asquith with a delightful chip over the top and the inevitable fourth try came with four minutes left, when a rapidly retreating Ulster scrum forced Timoney to pick up only to receive Tadhg Beirne's wrap up tackle and rip allowing the Munster-bound player to score.

Scarlets - T Williams, C Baldwin (R Conbeer 50), P Asquith, S Hughes (capt), I Nicholas, D Jones (Hughes 76), J Evans (Smith 73); D Evans (P Price 48), R Elias (Phillips 72), W Kruger (S Gardiner 67), S Cummins (L Rawlins 58), D Bulbring, T Beirne, J Davies (W Boyde 55), J Macleod

Ulster - L Ludik, A Trimble (P Nelson 64), L Marshall (D Cave 66), S McCloskey, T Bowe, J McPhillips, J Cooney (P Marshall 72); A Warwick (K McCall 52), J Andrew (R Herring 52), W Herbst (R Ah You 61), A O'Connor, K Treadwell, M Rea (M Dalton 66), N Timoney, J Deysel (C Henry 45).

Ref - I Davies (WRU)

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