The Scarlets claimed an impressive opening day victory as they beat Ulster 16-9 at Ravenhill on Friday.
The Scarlets claimed an impressive opening day victory as they defeated Ulster 16-9 at Ravenhill on Friday.
In appalling conditions new coach Nigel Davies got the perfect start as the Welsh side bid to put last season's disappointment behind them.
Stephen Jones produced an eye-catching performance on a dreadful night weather-wise and his all-round game, allied to some accurate place kicking got the Scarlets home.
Ulster, with new signing BJ Botha on show, could not find their way into the game and coach Matt Williams may have another tough season ahead as his side had to settle for a losing bonus point.
Playing into the conditions, with the wind and driving rain in their faces, Scarlets adapted quickly with some close-in passing between forwards and backs punching holes in Ulster's defence.
And after only three minutes, Stephen Jones put his side ahead with a penalty. Six minutes later, Clinton Schifcofske was wide with an attempt to get Ulster on the scoreboard.
The visitors further exposed the home side's defence out wide when winger Darren Daniel easily skinned Andrew Trimble to make the line after the Scarlets had run turnover ball back at Ulster – Jones added the extras and the visitors were 10-0 up after 21 minutes.
Ulster did hit back with two long-range Schifcofske penalties narrowing the gap to four points, though the new Ulster full-back was wide with another attempt.
The former Queensland Reds man was then just short with his fifth attempt, this time from 52 metres, before an injury-time strike narrowed the Scarlets' lead to one point at the turnaround.
Jones struck his second penalty three minutes after the restart and was strangely profligate with a further chance two minutes later when the ball rebounded off the left upright.
He made up for it two minutes before the hour with his third penalty putting the Scarlets 16-9 ahead, which was how the game finished.
Pen: Schifcofske 3
Pen: Jones 3
Ulster: 15 Clinton Schifcofske, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Rob Dewey, 11 Timoci Nagusa, 10 Paddy Wallace, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Kieron Dawson, 6 Matt McCullough, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Carlo Del Fava, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Rory Best(c), 1 Justin Fitzpatrick.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ryan Caldwell, 19 David Pollock, 20 Cillian Willis, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Bryn Cunningham.
Scarlets: 15 Morgan Stoddart, 14 Darren Daniel, 13 Rob Higgitt, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Mark Jones, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Sililo Martens, 8 David Lyons, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Simon Easterby (c), 5 Simon Maling, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Kees Meeuws, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Deacon Manu, 17 Mahonri Schwalger, 18 Vernon Cooper, 19 Dafydd Jones, 20 Martin Roberts, 21 Ceiron Thomas, 22 Nathan Brew.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Touch judges: D Keane (Ireland), P Haycock (Ireland)