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Ulster boost play-off hopes with strong second-half display at Scarlets

11 May 2024 3 minute read
Parc y Scarlets – panoramio.jpg by cisko66 is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Ulster ran in four second-half tries to give their United Rugby Championship play-off hopes a major boost with a 31-20 bonus-point victory at the Scarlets.

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

Yellow cards

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.

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.

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 number eight 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 Nnumber eight 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.

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