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Ulster keep pressure on Stormers

MATCH REPORT: Ulster strengthened their play-off hopes with a 31-20 bonus-point win over Scarlets on Saturday.

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The Ulster team who started the match in eight-placed on the United Rugby Championship table, moved to sixth courtesy of the Round 16 win over Scarlets.

The Irish side now has 49 log points just one point behind fifth-placed Stormers, while Scarlets are 14th with 17 points.

The Irish side outscored Scarlets four tries to two.

Ulster trailed 3-6 at half time at Parc Y Scarlets but their improved display after the interval saw them cement their place in the top eight.

Scarlets were on top for much of the first period but two yellow cards to key players in the final five minutes of the opening period ultimately caused their downfall.

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Taine Plumtree was the first to go for tapping the ball out of the hands of John Cooney at a maul and then Gareth Davies departed for an alleged trip. Ulster scored two tries while they were off the field to take firm control of proceedings.

Having been forced to defend for much of the opening quarter the visitors found themselves trailing to two Sam Costelow penalties before John Cooney got one back in the 27th minute.

That gave them some confidence and three times Italian referee Gianluca Gnecchi decided Ulster forwards had been held up over the line before he blew for half-time.

It was a different Ulster that came out for the second half and a 60-metre break up the right touchline forced the home side to defend a lineout five metres out and Stuart McCloskey capitalised three minutes after the re-start.

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All they had to do was get the ball into the wide, unguarded open spaces against 13 men and McCloskey cut back against the grain to score at the posts.

Cooney added the extras and then improved a close-range try by No.8 Nick Timoney before Davies returned.

That created some breathing space on the scoreboard and David McCann’s effort in the 55th minute allowed Cooney to add two more points to make it 24-6. Now it was a race to the bonus point, although before Ulster got there they conceded a try to home No.8 Carwyn Tuipulotu which Costelow improved.

Jacob Stockdale grabbed the fourth try for the extra point with an overlap score on the left wing – his eighth try of the campaign. Cooney hit the target again to make it an 18-point lead.

Back came the Scarlets with a breakaway try for wing Tomi Lewis but that was as good as it got for the hosts.

Player of the Match

Stuart McCloskey was the go-to man in midfield for Ulster to get them over the gainline. His power in both attack and defence was something the Scarlets found difficult to handle.

Play of the Match

With two extra men at the start of the second half Ulster needed to get the ball into the wide open spaces. They did that off a line-out three minutes after the re-start to allow McCloskey to cut back against the grain and score at the posts – his first league try of the season.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: Tuipulotu, Lewis
Cons: Costelow 2
Pens: Costelow 2

For Ulster:
Tries: McCloskey, Timoney, McCann, Stockdale
Cons: Cooney 4
Pens: Cooney

Yellow cards: Taine Plumtree (Scarlets, 37 – knock on), Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 40+2 – deliberate trip)

Teams

Scarlets: 15 Ioan Nicholas, 14 Tomi Lewis, 13 Johnny Williams, 12 Eddie James, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Taine Plumtree, 5 Jac Price, 4 Morgan Jones, 3 Harri O’Connor, 2 Ryan Elias (captain), 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Jarrod Taylor, 20 Ben Williams, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Scott Williams.

Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Ethan McIlroy, 13 Will Addison, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Nick Timoney, 7 David McCann, 6 Cormac Izuchukwu, 5 Alan O’Connor (captain), 4 Kieran Treadwell, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Eric O’Sullivan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Stewart, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 James French, 19 Harry Sheridan, 20 Reuben Crothers, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Dave Ewers.

Referee: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales) and Elliot Mayor (Wales)
TMO: Matteo Liperini (Italy)

*Additional source: URC

 

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