Scarlets 20–31 Ulster: No Dream Home Farewell Scarlets Legends as Ulster Secure Bonus Point Win - Ruck

Scarlets 20–31 Ulster: No Dream Home Farewell Scarlets Legends as Ulster Secure Bonus Point Win

By Jon Page

A Scarlets side not only desperate for a win, but desperate to send off club legends on a high, were left ruing their indiscipline and an inability to convert pressure into points. The Scarlets were handed a 20-31 defeat, against a confident Ulster side.

With plenty of Scarlets running out at the Parc Y Scarlets for the final time, the tone was set for an emotional game, as Ken Owens, ‘The Sheriff’, walked out the match ball out with his children.

Ulster kicked off and the Scarlets exited well. In the first 20 minutes, despite early scrum pressure from Ulster, the Scarlets were playing all the rugby, with fullback Ioan Nicholas breaking the line seemingly every time he received a high ball, even whilst surrounded by Ulster defenders. Gareth Davies was at the centre of everything, but it counted for very little, with the Scarlets unable to turn territory into tries.

Wearing six but packing down at eight, Taine Plumtree was everywhere, breaking the line when carrying in heavy traffic and disrupting Ulster possession. But he let down all his hard work when he slapped the ball out of John Cooney’s hands at a time when his side were under no pressure and earned himself ten minutes in the sin bin.

It was after this moment that the Scarlets seemed to lose momentum and Davies joined his teammate in the bin for a trip, just five minutes later. Plumtree’s opposite man Cormac Izuchukwu always seemed moments away from breaking free in the wide channels, but will ultimately remember his performance for being held up over the line twice, when his side were desperate for points in the dying embers of the first half.

If ever there was a game of two halves, this clash epitomised the phrase. The Ulstermen ran the ball from their 22m straight off the kick-off and the ensuing link-up play between Michael Lowry and David McCann, set the tone for an expansive second half of rugby. The ball found its way into touch and Scarlets had a line-out just outside of their 22m, but with just 13 red shirts on the pitch skipper Ryan Elias overthrew the ball to the opposition.

Almost immediately Stuart McCloskey went over for the first try of the game and it was converted by Cooney. With only two minutes gone in the second half, the home side looked shellshocked. Off of the kick-off Scarlets reclaimed the ball only for Elias to knock the ball on in a strong attacking position, stifling any momentum.

Lowry looked set to score his sides second try soon after, before a phenomenal tackle from his opposite number, Nicholas, forced him into a knock on. After a few minutes pinned in their half the Scarlets lost the ball before Timoney, who’s first half defence was sensational, ended up crashing over the whitewash under a pile of red bodies, with Cooney converting again.

By this point Ulster were in full swing, leading 17-6 and even a Scarlets side back to their full complement of 15 men could not stop McCann from scoring a try, a just reward for his hard work, as Cooney continued his 100% accuracy off the tee today.

With the score 24-6 you could forgive the Scarlets if they gave up, but with forward replacements on the pitch driving the scrum forward and roared on by a passionate home crowd, Carwyn Tuipolotu finally got a try on the board for the men from Llanelli, with Sam Costelow kicking the extras.

But an old cliché says a team is always more vulnerable after scoring and this was proven right, with Stockdale walking a try in from the left wing just three minutes later, which was again converted by Cooney. This would be Cooney’s final act of the afternoon, being replaced by young hybrid scrum half-fly half Nathan Doak, on return from a groin injury.

Wales international Ioan Lloyd entered the fray, and his first act of the game was to break the line and put Tomi Lewis in for a try, in one of the finest individual moments of the game. But even with a Costelow conversion, losing 20-31 with thirteen minutes to go left the home side with too much work to do, as Ulster ultimately shut the game out and Scarlets did not fire another shot before the final whistle.

As Ulster regained possession after the buzzer, they booted it into the South stand of Parc Y Scarlets, signalling the end of the game.


TRIES: 2 (Tuipolotu, 60’, Lewis, 66’)

CONVERSIONS: 2 (Costelow, 61’, Costelow, 67’)

PENALTIES: 2 (Costelow, 11’, Costelow, 26’)


YELLOW CARDS: 2 (Plumtree, 36’, Davies, 41’)


15. Ioan Nicholas 14. Tomi Lewis 13. Johnny Williams 12. Eddie James 11. Ryan Conbeer 10. Sam Costelow 9. Gareth Davies 1. Kemsley Mathias 2. Ryan Elias (Captain) 3. Harri O’Connor 4. Morgan Jones 5. Jac Price 6. Taine Plumtree 7. Dan Davis 8. Carwyn Tuipolotu


16. Shaun Evans 17. Wyn Jones 18. Sam Wainwright 19. Jarrod Taylor 20. Ben Williams 21. Kieran Hardy 22. Ioan Lloyd 23. Scott Williams


TRIES: 4 (McCloskey, 42’, Timoney, 48’, McCann, 54’, Stockdale, 63’)

CONVERSIONS: 4 (Cooney, 42’, Cooney, 49’, Cooney 55’, Cooney 64’)

PENALTIES: 1 (Cooney, 28’)




15. Mike Lowry 14. Ethan Mcllroy 13. Will Addison 12. Stuart McCloskey 11. Jacob Stockdale 10. Billy Burns 9. John Cooney 1. Eric O’Sullivan 2. Rob Herring 3. Scott Wilson 4. Kieran Treadwell 5. Alan O’Connor (Captain) 6. Carmac Izuchukwu 7. David McCann 8. Nick Timoney


16. Tom Stewart 17. Andrew Warwick 18. James French 19. Harry Sheridan 20. Reuben Crothers 21. Nathan Doak 22. Stewart Moore 23. Dave Ewers



1. Kemsley Mathias – 7.5

Everywhere in the first 20 minutes and very powerful in the carry, but part of a front row unit that was always under pressure.

2. Ryan Elias (C) – 4

Solid in the first half, but his overthrow led to the first Ulster try before he knocked on in a strong attacking position less than two minutes later.

3. Harri O’Connor – 6

Was tenacious around the park, but the scrum vastly improved when Wainwright joined the fray.

4. Morgan Jones – 6

Worked hard around the park but outclassed by the opposition locks.

5. Jac Price – 6 

Similar to his second-row colleague, worked very hard but ultimately the Scarlets needed the brunt of Sam Lousi and Alex Craig up front.

6. Taine Plumtree – 7

Demonstrated his test credentials when he had the ball in his hand, but his needless yellow card would have had coaches pulling their hair out. Would have scored much higher if not for his brain fade.

7. Dan Davis – 7

Seemed to be everywhere but struggled to influence the breakdown, re-joined the fray late on and his intensity did not drop.

8. Carwyn Tuipolotu – 8

Does the hard yards in heavy traffic that sometimes go under the radar, but when his team needed a big moment, he stepped up, scoring their first try.

9. Gareth Davies – 7

Electric in the first half but similar to Wales teammate, Plumtree, put his team under unfair pressure with his yellow card. His team never really recovered fully from going down to thirteen men.

10. Sam Costelow – 6.5

Kicked his points and played confidently in the first 20 but faded off after that. His rival for the Scarlets and Wales ten shirt, Ioan Lloyd, really staked a claim today.

11. Ryan Conbeer- 6

Would have hoped to have been more involved in his last home game, his only real highlight was bouncing Eric O’Sullivan.

12. Eddie James – 7

A willing carrier but outshone by his opposite man.

13. Johnny Williams – 6.5

Did not play badly but does not look as comfortable as he does in the 12 jersey.

14. Tomi Lewis – 7

The ball was rarely shipped to him, but looked electric when he was in possession. Showed a clean pair of heels to score his second half try.

15. Ioan Nicholas – 8.5

Deserved to be on the winning side. Trustworthy under the high ball, strong 1 on 1 defence and electric in attack.


16. Shaun Evans – 7.5

You can tell this man started his career in the back row. He was fast, hardworking and added real impetus to a team chasing the game.

17. Wyn Jones – 8

In his last game at home, this test Lion proved his credentials, shoring up the scrum and working hard around the park.

18. Sam Wainwright – 7

Not as exciting around the park as the other front row replacements but held up his side of the scrum well.

19. Jarrod Taylor – 6

Similar to the other Scarlets locks, solid but unspectacular.

20. Ben Williams – 6

Tried hard to influence the game, but too late to make an impact.

21. Kieran Hardy – 6

Brought his usual energy from the base to this game.

22. Ioan Lloyd – 8

Added impact almost immediately even out of position to set up a try, can hold his head high.

23. Scott Williams – 5

Will go down not just as a Scarlets great, but a Welsh one as well. Will not want to look back at this game though, with his biggest contribution a needless high tackle that helped the opposition escape their 22.


1. Eric O’Sullivan 8.5

Was running around like a 4th back row for the first 20 minutes, carrying repeatedly, hitting anything that moved and even pinching a turnover. Gained points for playing the full 80 but loses them for being bounced by a winger.

2. Rob Herring – 8

So important to this Ulster team, set piece was fantastic whenever he was involved, and he emptied the tank before being replaced.

3. Scott Wilson – 6

Off within 20 minutes but contributed to a powerful scrum in that time.

4. Kieran Treadwell- 7

Worked hard and secured lineout ball under pressure.

5. Alan O’Connor (C) – 7

Led from the front, making all his collisions felt.

6. Cormac Izuchukwu – 7.5

Showed such promise in the wide channels and his ability to rip the ball but needs to work on try scoring technique after being held up twice.

7. David McCann- 7.5

Came alive in the 2nd half and was justly rewarded with a well-earned try.

8. Nick Timoney – 8

His chop tackling in the first half was like kryptonite for the Scarlets, stopping runners on the gain line for fun. As Ulster turned the screw in the second half the Ireland international was not going to be refused a try.

9. John Cooney – 8

Ran the show and nailed all of his kicks, integral to this Ulster backline.

10. Billy Burns – 7

Didn’t necessarily put a foot wrong but was very quiet.

11. Jacob Stockdale – 7

Most of the action on his wing went to McCloskey or Izuchukwu, took his try well though.

12. Stuart McCloskey – 10

Unstoppable, did the hard yards, outshone his opposite number and was the one who grabbed the game’s first try, swinging the momentum.

13. Will Addison – 7

Very quiet, but an achievement in of itself to not make any noticeable mistakes defending the 13 channel against some electric Scarlets backs.

14. Ethan Mcllroy – 7

Almost no action on his wing, but never put a foot wrong. Thought he was in for a first half intercept try before the referee blew the whistle for advantage.

15. Mike Lowry – 7

Very mixed game, after knocking on a high ball in the first half he seemed to lose confidence, but exploded into action the moment the second half began.


16. Tom Stewart – 7

Continued Herring’s good work at hooker.

17. Andrew Warwick – 6

Did not put a foot wrong around the park, but scrum was under significant pressure.

18. James French – 6

The same as Warwick, no massive errors but failed to come close to Alan O’Connor’s performance.

19. Harry Sheridan- 6

Hit hard, but part of a tight five unit that was being pushed around in the final quarter.

20. Reuben Crothers – 6

Worked hard to get involved but struggled to make an impact against a Scarlets bench on a mission.

21. Nathan Doak – 6.5

Added zip around the park, but missed a kick that should be well within his abilities.

22. Stewart Moore – 6

Did his job, but impossible to live up to the man he replaced, MOTM McCloskey.

23. Dave Ewers – 6

The former Exeter man looked in scarily good shape but failed to get his hands on the ball enough.