Planet Rugby

Ulster make it 10 out of 10

02nd December 2012 17:45

Share:

Andrew Trimble

Try-scorer: Andrew Trimble

Ulster racked up their tenth straight RaboDirect PRO12 win of the season on Sunday after beating the second-placed Scarlets 19-12 in Llanelli.

With the next phase of their European adventure looming, Mark Anscombe cleverly rotated his panel of players; resting some key personnel.

It was the Scarlets who began the game in superior fashion, with their forwards hitting the rucks with superb intensity. The quality of their early exploits earned the Welshmen a penalty on two minutes, but Aled Thomas was unsuccessful with the resultant kick. Similarly, Paddy Jackson was unable to capitalise on fine work by his pack when he missed a penalty in the sixth minute.

Ulster were beginning to find their rhythm, however, and Jackson secured his team's first points with a penalty on nine minutes to make it 3-0 to the league leaders.

Although decidedly scrappy, the forward contest was compelling, with the breakdown in particular being fiercely contested. Ulster's openside Robbie Diack was making a considerable impact in the contact area, but his contribution notwithstanding, quality ball was hard to come by.

Scarlets fly-half Thomas levelled the contest on 18 minutes after Ulster had been carelessly caught offside. The Scarlets' pack was starting to assert itself, and the home team's mauling game was particularly effective. Their efficiency in this area is surely testament to the influence of former Irish blindside, Simon Easterby, who is emerging as a prodigious young coach.

It was Ulster, however, who looked the more dangerous with ball in hand, and their opening try had certain inevitability to it. Irish winger, Andrew Trimble fortuitously caught a loose ball on 28 minutes and cantered unopposed to the line. It was not his most aesthetically pleasing try, but this team has mastered the art of winning ugly in recent weeks. It was also supremely satisfying for Trimble on a personal level, the Coleraine man being pressurised for his place by the precocious Craig Gilroy.

But yet again Ulster's not so secret weapon was their devastating scrum. Callum Black was particularly effective on the loosehead side and, in so doing, has given his coach a selection headache ahead of next week's seminal game against Northampton Saints. Ulster's scrummaging prowess earned them another penalty on 32 minutes, and the outstanding Jackson effortlessly converted.

Although Ulster were beginning to dominate their battle hardened opponents, their play lacked the fluidity and potency that had been so evident in the early part of the season. It was equally apparent that the league's pace setters had one eye on next weekend's challenge.

The second half was a much more closely contested affair, with the home team increasing their intensity and work rate from their first half efforts. The menace of their new approach was tangible, causing headaches for Ulster's vaunted defence.

It was the mercurial Jackson who opened the scoring on 42 minutes when he successfully converted a penalty. But then came the Scarlets' comeback. Thomas clawed back Ulster's lead on 52 minutes to make it 16-9 to the Ulstermen.

Ulster extended the lead further on 56 minutes to earn a ten point cushion. Their cause was not aided by the sin-binning of Dan Tuohy and that decision galvanised the Scarlets, who frantically laid siege to Ulster's half. But the visitors' defensive line held firm.

Thomas did earn a well deserved losing bonus point with the last kick of the game, but for Ulster another vital win had been secured and they now have a five day turnaround before their biggest game of the season.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Pen: Thomas 4

For Ulster:
Try: Trimble
Con: Jackson
Pen: Jackson 4
Yellow card: Tuohy (64 mins)

Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Johnathan Edwards (c), 6 George Earle, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Craig Price, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Nick Reynolds.

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson , 7 Robbie Diack, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Nigel McComb, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Niall O'Connor, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: James Jones (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
Television match official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)

By Rory McGimpsey

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Pumas vs Western Province15:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39