THE SCARLETS were denied what would have been a rare away win at the Kingspan Stadium as Ulster came from behind to move level on points with Glasgow Warriors at the top of the Guinness Pro12, inspired largely by the superb Ruan Pienaar. In an error strewn encounter the Scarlets had looked good for victory at half time, having led 13-6 there were visions of a first away win since February 2014. But Ulster roared out of the traps in the second period, scoring three tries in a dominant 40 minutes to sit side by side with the Warriors at the summit ahead of their trip to Munster on Saturday (Mar 7). It had looked as though the West Wales side were heading towards another wretched away loss, but to their credit, the players rallied and claimed a losing bonus point with minutes left on the clock. Nick Williams conceded a penalty for not releasing in the opening minutes, but fly half Steve Shingler struck wide of the uprights.
He was swiftly presented with a second opportunity to showcase his kicking talent however and duly delivered, moving the visitors into a 3-0 lead on 13 minutes. Straight from the restart Ulster were gifted a chance to get straight back into the game, however South African Pienaar dragged his penalty attempt wide across the posts. The strong Belfast breeze continued to play havoc when Shingler again missed off the tee. The ball visibly wobbled in the air and Shingler kicked the ground in frustration as his stats for the night read one from three. The smile was back on his face on 29 minutes though, scoring a simple penalty four minutes after Pienaar had struck at the other end to keep Scarlets in front.
There was no danger of any quality play breaking out as the weather played havoc with the handling skills of both teams and the Scarlets were again penalised at the breakdown just before the break. Pienaar stepped up to allow the home crowd to breathe a little easier, making no mistake from 22m. Panic set in though, when a loose pass from Ian Humphreys, on his 100th Ulster appearance, was intercepted by No.8 John Barclay who raced clear and touched down. Shingler added the extras to give his side a 13-6 lead at half-time. Facing into the fierce elements the Scarlets’ hopes of registering a first Guinness Pro12 away win in more than a year began to evaporate six minutes after the restart following Craig Gilroy’s breathtaking score. Leaving Ken Owens in his wake, he also left Jordan Williams and Shingler grasping at air as he ran in from fully 40 metres before diving over the line.
But Pienaar missed a difficult conversion and Scarlets retained a slender lead. The Scarlets kicking game was poor throughout, this coupled with a now creaking defence meant danger was imminent. A neat offload from Humphreys set Luke Marshall free. And, after dotting down behind the posts, Pienaar kicked his team five points in front. The South Africa star added the third try, receiving the ball from a scrum just a metre from the Scarlets line and brushing past Shingler to score, before himself adding the extras.
With their tails up, Ulster now went in search of their fourth try and a bonus point but the 17,000-strong home crowd saw Scarlets score the game’s final try instead. Kristian Phillips touched down in the corner after a smart break from Jordan Williams, bagging a bonus point of their own, and Shingler added the extras. It has been 7 long years since the Scarlets claimed victory away in Ulster but they will be pleased to come away with a hard earned bonus point. Teams: Ulster: Ludik, Gilroy, Cave, Marshall, Allen, Humphreys, Pienaar; Black, Herring, Herbst, Tuohy, van der Merwe, Wilson, Ross, N Williams Replacements: Andrew, Warwick, Ross, Stevenson, McComish, Marshall, Stanley, Scholes Scarlets: J Williams, Robinson, King, Parkes, Tagicakibau, Shingler, A. Davies; John, Owens, Edwards, Earle, Rawlins, Shingler, J Davies, Barclay Replacements: Elias, R. Thomas, Leung, Payne, McCusker, G Davies, A Warren, K Phillips Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Raiders seal first ever win
West Wales Raiders 44
Coventry Bears 16
Lucas Marshall, Stebonheath Park,
A LATE rally by Coventry Bears was not enough to deny a jubilant West Wales Raiders their first-ever win at the 45th time of asking.
The old South Wales Ironmen tasted victory against Gloucestershire All Golds in the first match played at Stebonheath Park back in July 2017, but never before have the side won under the Raiders banner. And it was certainly worth the wait as the Raiders dominated much of the game against a Bears side that doesn’t have the best record when travelling to South Wales. The other game the Ironmen won in 2017 was against Coventry, whilst the Bears only won by 10 points at Llanelli last season.
Dewi Billingham made his Coventry debut while trialist Zak Williams made his first appearance since returning to the Bears. But both former Raiders stars were unable to come back to haunt their former employers.
Much of the damage was done in the first half with the Raiders taking control from the kick-off and eventually going in 20-0 up at the break.
It took only six minutes for Raiders to break the Bears defence when good work down the left put Dalton Desmond-Walker in for the opener. Phil Cowburn added the extras but was off target just moments later after Ash Bateman was on the end of some quick passing to go in on the right.
When Morgan Evans went in for the Raiders third, again converted by Cowburn, their loyal band of supporters started to believe they were on course for victory.
It could have been even worse for the Bears, but strong defence saw them hold the visitors up over the line on three occasions mid-way through the half. Although there was no denying Archie Snook with one of the final plays of the half after Welsh International Steve Parry had split the Bears defence to put the centre through. Cowburn once again failed with the conversion but the Raiders still celebrated their most positive 40 minutes in almost two years.
After the break, it was the Bears who struck first through Reece Rance, but any hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished by three quick-fire tries.
First, former Bears player Mitch Shaw scooted over, before Bateman and Snook both got their second try of the afternoon to all but secure the victory for the Llanelli-based outfit.
Parry then went in for the Raiders’ eighth try of the day to put the icing on a long-awaited cake.
But the Bears were by no means done and added two further tries of their own to make the scoreline look a little less dominate than the game suggested.
Tries from Errol Carter and South Wales youth system graduate Cobi Green, along with two Joe Sanderson conversions rounded off the scoring for the visitors.
Dafen see off Porthcawl
DAFEN Seconds earned their sixth win of the season on Saturday (Jul 6) as they beat Porthcawl by 75 runs.
Porthcawl won the toss and elected to field and they were able to bowl Dafen out for 182.
Opener Oliver Evans made a score of 19 and Chris Randell scored 25 as a number of Dafen batsmen made good starts.
Jonathan Griffiths scored 22 and there were also scores of 15 from Tom Lavender and 16 from Luke Dunning.
Matthew Thomas made a late score of 18 while Andrew Randell top scored with 43 runs.
Nicholas Morgan was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for the loss of 30 runs from his 6.3 overs.
Mark Bevan also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-37.
That set Porthcawl 138 to win but they lost a number of batsmen for single figure scores as they struggled to put runs on the board.
Andrew Randell had Nicholas Morgan caught by Jac Morgan and Matthew Thomas had Rhodri Phillips caught by Chris Randell.
Chris Richards made a score of 13 before he was bowled by Rhys Marchant who then also bowled Rob Warren and had David Lewis caught by Chris Randell, both for ducks.
Tim Richards also fell for a duck when he was caught off the bowling of Matthew Thomas.
Mark Lewis had scored 25 but he also fell to the bowling of Marchant.
Steffan Flood also scored 25 before he was bowled by Chris Randell and Joshua Aubrey added 20 late on before he also fell to the bowling of Randell.
That meant that Porthcawl were all out for 107, giving Dafen seconds an excellent win.
On Saturday (Jul 13), Dafen seconds are away to local rivals Llanelli seconds.
Rees century sees Llanelli to win
LLANELLI’s Iwan Rees scored a century on Saturday (Jul 6) to help his side to victory over Briton Ferry Steel.
Briton Ferry won the toss and elected to bat but they were restricted to 186-8 in their innings.
Steven Devonald struck early on to remove Evan Hynes but Lloyd Clement and Jamie Griffiths shared 44 runs for the second wicket.
Jac Rees had Griffiths caught by Craig Howells on a score of 24 and soon after Craig Evans was bowled by Aled Gilley for a duck.
Clement had made a score of 41 but when he was bowled by Rees, the Steel found themselves on 81-4.
That soon became 88-5 as Steve Maddock was caught by Marcus Leaf off the bowling of Gilley.
Iwan Rees then had Steffan Evans caught by Howells and Rhys Norgrove fell in similar fashion.
Jason Hughes and Thomas Williams shared 56 runs for the eighth wicket as they looked to give their side a total to defend.
On the last ball Williams was caught by Rees off the bowling of Gilley on a score of 24 which left Hughes not out on 67.
Llanelli openers Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips shared 42 runs for the first wicket before Phillips was caught by Rhys Norgrove off the bowling of Jay Webb.
That was as good as it got for the Steel though as they were unable to claim any further wickets.
Craig Howells hit seven fours as he finished unbeaten on 53 while Rees starred with 14 fours to finish unbeaten on 104.
The win gives Llanelli 19 points and keeps them third in the table. On Saturday (Jul 13), they travel to local rivals Dafen.
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