EARLY XMAS BONUS

Four-try Ul­ster put Scar­lets to sword Scar­lets 24 Ul­ster 25

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - LEINSTER CLUB SFC FINAL - BY AN­DREW BALDOCK

IRE­LAND’S Ja­cob Stock­dale made it an­other try-scor­ing su­per show as Ul­ster put a huge hole in Scar­lets’ Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup hopes.

Stock­dale, whose touch­down helped Ire­land beat world cham­pi­ons New Zealand last month, struck in the first half at Parc-y-scar­lets to un­der­pin a bonus­point vic­tory.

Fel­low wing Henry Speight, cen­tre Will Ad­di­son and No.8 Mar­cell Coet­zee also scored, with scrum-half John Cooney kick­ing a penalty and con­ver­sion to leave Ul­ster level on points with pool pace-set­ters Rac­ing 92.

But Scar­lets, semi-fi­nal­ists last sea­son, face exit af­ter a third suc­ces­sive de­feat as two St­eff Evans tries, a late Dan Davis try, a Rhys Patchell penalty and two con­ver­sions plus Dan Jones’ con­ver­sion, proved in vain.

The teams meet again in Belfast on Fri­day and the mo­men­tum is with Ul­ster, whose re­main­ing fix­tures also in­clude a po­ten­tially piv­otal home clash against Rac­ing next month.

Patchell and Cooney ex­changed early penal­ties be­fore Ul­ster hit the front by at­tack­ing from a scrum in­side their own half. Ad­di­son eas­ily rounded Wales cen­tre Jonathan Davies who found Stock­dale and he showed his class with a blis­ter­ing fin­ish to a sweep­ing 60-me­tre move.

But the Scar­lets for­wards moved up a gear, driv­ing deep into Ul­ster’s 22 and set­ting up an im­pos­ing at­tack­ing plat­form from which Evans claimed a close-range try that Patchell con­verted. Scar­lets’ lead only lasted eight min­utes, though, as a poor Patchell clear­ance kick al­lowed Ul­ster the chance to run pos­ses­sion back.

Af­ter some pa­tient build-up work Speight crossed for his team’s se­cond try and se­cured a 13-10 in­ter­val ad­van­tage.

Ul­ster ex­tended their lead 10 min­utes af­ter the restart when Cooney found Ad­di­son with a de­fence-split­ting pass and the cen­tre fin­ished ef­fort­lessly (in­set) be­fore Cooney’s con­ver­sion opened up a com­mand­ing lead. But Evans set up the fi­nal quar­ter when he sprinted over for his se­cond try, with Patchell’s con­ver­sion cut­ting the gap to 20-17.

Yet Ul­ster re­sponded im­me­di­ately, though, as Coet­zee went over in the corner and a stop­page-time Davis try that Jones con­verted brought noth­ing more than a los­ing bonus point for the hosts.

LETHAL Stock­dale fin­ishes a swift move for his try last night

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