The Scarlets came to within 30 seconds of getting only a third away win in Belfast​ 14 years at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday night.

John Cooney's late penalty denied what would've been a hard-fought win for the Scarlets in a scrappy affair, with both sides lacking cohesion and making numerous errors.

Ulster were in control for large portions of the game, but failed to turn their pressure into points against a resolute Scarlet defence, which will be one of the big positives Wayne Pivac's men will take away from the game.

It was the Scarlets who were first on the scoreboard, with Rhys Patchell converting his own try in the 7th minute to give his side a 7-0 lead.

Ill-discipline then began to cause the away side problems, with Cooney landing 3 straight-forward penalties to give the Ulstermen a 9-7 lead going into half-time.

The Scarlets came quickly out of the blocks in the second half, missing a fantastic opportunity to retake the lead after a foray into the Ulster 22 led to Ken Owens knocking-on just over the line.

The two sides then traded several penalties, with Dan Jones landing two attempts after coming on to replace the injured Rhys Patchell, putting the Scarlets 13-12 ahead going into the final quarter.

However, the ill-discipline started to build up, with Ed Kennedy seeing yellow after what was at best a mistimed tackle.

The Scarlets defended well and looked set to see out the win, before the one-man deficit began to take its toll. After Ulster had stretched our defence to breaking point, David Bulbring was penalised for an off-the-ball obstruction, allowing Cooney to give Ulster a dramatic 79th minute victory.

Looking ahead to the visit of European champions Leinster next week, the injuries sustained will be a big concern, with Patchell, his replacement Jones, and the dynamic Josh Macleod all being forced to leave the field. 

But the Scarlets will take some confidence in coming so close to what would've been an unlikely victory.

They travelled to Ulster with a severely depleted squad, with several first choice players making up the 14-man injury list.


But the several newcomers making their debuts showed up well - Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was assured in his decision making and accurate with his box-kicking, Blade Thomson made his presence felt all over the field, and Blommetjies showed some glimpses of his attacking capabilities.

Kieron Fonotia was perhaps the pick of the lot, showing doggedness in defence (including several important tackles and two turnovers) and some nice touches in attack.

The lineout will be a concern, with several attacking opportunities wasted, and this will be something Ioan Cunningham will be keen to address in the week leading up to the Leinster game.

But hopefully, the cobwebs will have been well and truly swept away by next week and the Scarlets can register a first win of the season. 

Patchell registered the Scarlets' first try of the Pro14 season, but is an injury concern ahead of next week's home game vs Leinster

Ulster 15-13 Scarlets

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Ulster 15(9)

Penalties: Cooney (5)


Scarlets 13 (7)

Tries: Patchell Conversions: Patchell Pens: Jones (2)


Scarlets team:

Blommetjies, Prydie, Hughes, Fonotia, Evans, Patchell, Hidalgo-Clyne; Evans, Owens (captain), Kruger, Bulbring, Cummins, Thomson, Davies, Macleod. 


Elias, Price, Gardiner, Kennedy, Davis, Davies, Jones, Nicholas.

Ulster team:

Addison, Gilroy, Cave, McCloskey, Speight, Burns, Cooney; Warwick, Andrew, O'Toole, O'Connor (captain), Henderson, Coetzee, Reidy, Timoney.


McBurney, O'Sullivan, Kane, Treadwell, Henry, Shanahan, Curtis, Kernohan.

Thoughts on the game? Leave in the comments sections below!

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