Ulster looked in good shape as they played their way to an excellent 45-24 victory over the Scarlets in the Magners League on Friday.
Ulster looked in very good shape as they patiently played their way to an excellent 45-24 victory over the Scarlets in the Magners League on Friday.
The win takes the Ulstermen top of the Magners League briefly, while the Scarlets have a long-looking season looming in front of them.
Outside-half Ian Humphreys produced a man of the match display, scoring 20 points from four penalties and four conversions and also creating his team's third try with a chip for Fijian winger Timoci Nagusa.
Ulster's other tryscorers were Andrew Trimble, who grabbed a brace, and Willie Faloon and substitute Ian Whitten.
Following Stephen Jones' penalty on two minutes, Ulster immediately responded and, from the restart, won the ball back and moved it wide.
Ball was quickly recycled and South African prop Brendon Botha's line break saw flanker Faloon sweep in under the posts. Humphreys easily added the extras to give Ulster the lead.
Jones then tucked his side into Ulster's slipstream with a second penalty, after Trimble was wrapped up from a Scarlets up-and-under.
Ulster should then probably have scored after Isaac Boss broke upfield after stealing the ball from the back of a Scarlets scrum – but Stephen Ferris was unable to hold the pass with the line beckoning.
However, Humphreys landed a 17th-minute penalty to give Ulster a 10-6 lead after Rhys Thomas was sin-binned for a spear tackle on Ryan Caldwell.
But, instead of kicking on from there, Ulster were penalised twice in the space of two minutes and Jones made no mistake to put the Scarlets 12-10 in front after 22 minutes.
Four minutes after the half hour, Humphreys put Ulster back in the lead with his second penalty and really should have made another one count four minutes later but his effort sailed high and wide.
The Ulster out half made up for it though in injury time with a sweet strike from 45 metres, giving Ulster a 16-12 lead at the turnaround.
Humphreys then made it 19-12 four minutes after the restart after Dafydd Jones was penalised for pulling down a maul and then when Humphreys miscued a bomb, Trimble followed it up by shoving Gareth Maule aside without the ball and then running in from just under 40 metres.
Referee Allan allowed the score but Humphreys failed to heap further injustice on to the Scarlets by missing the conversion.
But Ulster were not finished and on the hour, from turnover ball, Humphreys chipped for Nagusa to gather and race clear. The Ulster outside-half added the extras to take Ulster clear at 31-12.
Nothing seemed to be running for the Scarlets and a last-ditch tackle by Boss denied Lee Williams a score before a horrible mix-up at the back allowed Trimble to gather a loose ball and run home from over 30 metres for the bonus point try. Humphreys' conversion made it 38-12.
Scarlets got a consolation score with 10 minutes remaining from skipper Williams, which was superbly converted by Jones.
The game became disjointed from mass substitutions in the closing stages, which brought tries from Ulster substitute Whitten – converted by Humphreys – and an unconverted effort by Jon Davies for Scarlets, who were beaten for the fourth time in five league outings.
Tries: Faloon, Trimble 2, Nagusa, Whitten
Cons: Humphreys 4
Pens: Humphreys 4
For the Scarlets:
Tries: Davies 2
Con: S. JonesPens: S. Jones 4
Ulster: 15 Clinton Schifcofske, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 Brendon Botha, 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Andy Kyriacou, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Neil McComb, 19 TJ Anderson, 20 Paul Marshall, 21 Ian Whitten, 22 Mark McCrea.
Scarlets: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Lee Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 David Lyons (capt), 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Dafydd Jones, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Vernon Cooper, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Phil John, 17 Ken Owens, 18 Damian Welch, 19 Josh Turnbull, 20 Richie Pugh, 21 Gavin Evans, 22 Rob Higgitt.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Dudley Phillips (Ireland), Barry O'Keeffe (Ireland)
Television match official: Kilgore Marshall (Ireland)
Assessor: Bertie Smith (Ireland)