Ul­ster for­wards strug­gle to cope with Scar­lets pack

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - RUGBY -

Ul­ster were over­taken by the Scar­lets in Con­fer­ence B as they suf­fered a con­vinc­ing de­feat in Llanelli. Coach Dan McFar­land was with­out Ir­ish in­ter­na­tion­als Rory Best, Iain Hen­der­son, Ja­cob Stock­dale, Will Ad­di­son and Rob Her­ring and af­ter tak­ing the lead, his team strug­gled.

Uster’s for­wards were se­cond best against an im­pres­sive home pack in the first of what will be three meet­ings be­tween th­ese two teams over the next month.

Scrumhalf Dave Shana­han and his re­place­ment Jonny Ste­wart scored in ei­ther half, but Ul­ster were se­cond best through­out against a Scar­lets out­fit with­out 12 key men on duty with Wales.

Home tries came from Werner Kruger, Kieran Hardy, Kieron Fono­tia and Tom Pry­die in what was a com­fort­able home suc­cess.

Af­ter a poor open­ing 10 min­utes, Ul­ster broke the dead­lock with a fine try. A neat blind­side move saw cen­tre Louis Ludik link with wing Henry Speight and the Aus­tralia in­ter­na­tional passed back in­side to give scrumhalf Shana­han an easy con­ver­sion.

Burns’ con­ver­sion was fol­lowed by a penalty from Jones and then the Scar­lets’ first try. Jones kicked to the cor­ner and al­though Ed Kennedy slipped, the ball was re­cy­cled and Kruger dived over from close range. Jones kicked the goal and Ul­ster were now stuck in re­verse.

Only a su­perb tackle from Nick Ti­money de­nied Scar­lets a se­cond try. Marc Jones’ out­ra­geous back-door pass re­leased Kieran Hardy, but the home scrum-half was scragged into touch. Scar­lets did cross soon af­ter, but Paul Asquith’s ef­fort was ruled out by TMO Tim Hayes for ob­struc­tion in the build-up by Fono­tia.

Charmed life

Ul­ster were liv­ing a charmed life, but Scar­lets’ for­ward dom­i­nance soon paid off and it was Hardy who came up with an­other close-range score. There was still time for the su­perb Fono­tia to break clear be­fore the break for a fine try. One con­ver­sion from Jones sent Ul­ster to the break 22-7 down.

Scar­lets had an­other try dis­al­lowed and Ul­ster cen­tre James Hume was lucky to not be carded for a high tackle on Johnny McNi­choll. It made lit­tle dif­fer­ence. Scar­lets to­tally dom­i­nated ter­ri­tory and their bonus-point try ar­rived as with space out wide, Pry­die ben­e­fit­ted in the right cor­ner. Jones kicked the goal again and al­though Ul­ster got one back through Ste­wart, they couldn’t get back into it.

By the time the fi­nal quar­ter ar­rived, the game had long since been de­cided so the fi­nal 10 min­utes were quiet.

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