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)
Scarlets’ grassroots clubs show community spirit in delivering vital food packages
Scarlets community clubs have been working together to help deliver vital food packages across the region.
Volunteers from grassroots clubs and WRU girls hubs across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have been helping take the food packages to vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The clubs have teamed up with the Scarlets Community Foundation — the charity arm of the Scarlets — and Carmarthen-based food wholesaler Castell Howell, while Scarlets players Osian Knott, Kieran Hardy, Ryan Conbeer and Jac Morgan have also lent their hand to the operation.
More than 300 packages were due to be delivered on Monday and Tuesday (April 6 & April 7), with the initiative highlighting that even without any action on the field, rugby clubs remain at the heart of their community.
Scarlets Community Foundation manager Caroline Newman said: “We have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from local clubs, the number of people prepared to volunteer to help the most vulnerable in our communities has been touching.
“People’s reasons for requesting packs have often been heart-wrenching and it really has made us appreciate what we have.
“The foundation has worked closely with Castell Howell to make sure the packages are ready to go to those whose need is greatest, managing to turn things around pretty quickly and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, our funder, Castell Howell, all the clubs, our helpline volunteer and the foundation members.
“Great teamwork which has made me proud to be part of the fantastic community that rugby creates.”
Here are the rugby clubs and WRU girls rugby hubs taking part in the initiative
Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Amman Utd, Ammanford, Burry Port, Betws, Bynea, Cardigan, Cefneithin, Felinfoel, Fishguard & Goodwick, Furnace Utd, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandybie, Llanelli Wanderers, Llangennech, Llangwm, Merched Mynydd Mawr, Milford Haven, Narberth, New Dock Stars, Newcastle Emlyn, Neyland, Penybanc, Pontyates, St Clears, Stradey Sospans, Tenby Utd, Tumble, Tycroes, Whitland, Yr Hendy.
Wales v Scotland postponed
WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.
The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.
A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.
“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.
“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.
“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”
Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended
THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.
The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.
The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.
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