Scarlets well beaten by Ulster as miserable season continues

The Scarlets' Ioan Lloyd challenges the Ulster defence -Credit:Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency
The Scarlets' Ioan Lloyd challenges the Ulster defence -Credit:Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency

The Scarlets' miserable run of form continued as they were well-beaten 31-20 by Ulster in Llanelli.

Dwayne Peel's side have only won three times this season, and while there have been some small green shoots of recovery they were undone by a poor set-piece and some woeful discipline. Ulster were far more clinical throughout and the Scarlets had no way of stopping powerful centre Stuart McCloskey.

The Scarlets started with real positivity as they put some width on the ball in a bid to tire Ulster out, with both Gareth Davies and Johnny Williams prominent. But despite a couple of clean linebreaks, the Scarlets were not ruthless enough and had to make do with two successful penalties from the boot of Sam Costelow.

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But the Scarlets failed to build on their early dominance with the poor discipline which has plagued their season coming back to haunt them. John Cooney got Ulster on the scoreboard from the kicking tee and soon after the Scarlets saw Taine Plumtree sent to the sin bin for playing the ball on the floor.

Ulster were beginning to gain the upper hand and things got a lot worse for the hosts who were temporarily reduced to 13 men with Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies sent to the sin bin for a trip on Eric O'Sullivan. The visitors threw the kitchen sink at their hosts during the latter stages of the first-half but the Scarlets defence remained intact, holding Ulster up over the line three times to take a 6-3 lead into the interval.

Ulster hammered home their numerical advantage in the early stages of the second-half, with a try from Stuart McCloskey who sliced through the Scarlets defence for a score which John Cooney converted. Ulster were in no mood to let the Scarlets off the hook and an interception from Michael Lowry, who then kicked the ball up-field, forced the hosts to touch the ball down over their own try line.

Ulster's forward pack gave Nick Timoney the perfect platform to power his way over the line for their second try, which Cooney converted. The visitors continued to pile on the points with David McCann powering over for a third try.

The Scarlets finally found some momentum as they built pressure in the Ulster 22 and a powerful carry from No 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu yielded the home side's first try, which Costelow converted. But Ulster hit straight back when Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale touched down at the far left-hand corner for the bonus point try after some nice handling from his inside backs.

To their credit the Scarlets refused to throw in the towel and a wonderful break from Ioan Lloyd set up Tomi Lewis for a try but it was a case of too little too late for the Welsh club.