Scarlets (9) 22
TRY: Hadleigh Parkes. CON: Dan Jones. PEN: Dan Jones (5).

Ulster (0) 12
TRY: Rory Scholes, Penalty Try. CON: Stuart McCloskey.

The pre-season doom and gloom came back with a bang after this match as a disjointed Ulster capitulated to a young Scarlets side at Parc-y-Scarlets on Saturday afternoon.

I had predicted a home win in my preview but the scale of Ulster’s ineptitude was way beyond what I was expecting. Scarlets were not as good as I had anticipated but their dogged and hard working performance was more than enough to cope with an Ulster side lacking confidence, composure and ambition.

To tell the truth, having taken time off from a couple of work reports to watch this game, I was so utterly frustrated by the Ulster performance that I took a break from my “effing and blinding” at the TV to do some much needed vacuuming of the living room during the game!

The first half was truly dire with Scarlets keeping the scoreboard ticking over with three Dan Jones penalties for a 9 – 0 lead at the break. Ulster’s only contribution of note being a last gasp tackle by Rory Scholes on his opposite number to prevent a certain try.

Scarlets “no hands” tackling technique had resulted in the sin binning of prop Peter Edwards three minutes before the break and the teams turned round with the home side a man down.

Unfortunately, Ulster failed to make anything of their advantage as Hadleigh Parkes crossed for the Scarlets five minutes after the re-start with the conversion by Jones giving the hosts a 16 – 0 lead.

Ulster finally roused themselves to string together a sustained attack and the pressure eventually resulted in a second yellow card for Scarlets, this time John Barclay taking the walk of shame. Rory Scholes crossed in the corner, for an unconverted try, within a minute of Barclay’s departure but Jones added another penalty before his return to give Scarlets a 19 – 5 lead just after the hour mark.

A converted penalty try and a third yellow card for Scarlets, replacement Rob Evans departing for collapsing the maul, give Ulster a glimmer of a chance at 19 – 12 with nine minutes left but a fifth penalty for Scarlets, with the final kick of the game, made it a miserable afternoon for the Ulster men as they were denied the losing bonus.

Scarlets: Steffan Evans, Hadleigh Parkes, Regan King, Gareth Owen, Tom Williams; Daniel Jones, Aled Davies, Phil John, Emyr Phillips, Peter Edwards, Tom Price, Lewis Rawlins, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay. Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rob Evans, Will Taylor, George Earle, Rory Pitman, Kieran Hardy, Aled Thomas, Ioan Nicholas.

Ulster: Louis Ludik, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rory Scholes; Peter Nelson, Paul Marshall, Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Peter Browne, Franco Van der Merwe, Roger Wilson, Willie Faloon, Nick Williams. Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Robbie Diack, Clive Ross, David Shanahan, Sam Arnold, David Busby.

Photo Credit: INPHO/Craig Thomas