SCARLETS were narrowly beaten by Ulster in their Heineken Champions Cup game at Parc Y Scarlets on Friday (Dec 7).
A late try had brought them to within a point but they were unable to find a winning score and Ulster held on for a 25-24 win.
Scarlets got the game underway through Rhys Patchell and Ulster knocked the ball on handing possession straight back to the home side. The Scarlets were given a penalty which Patchell sent through the post to give them a 3-0 lead inside the first minute.
On the five-minute mark Ulster found themselves in Scarlets territory with advantage after Scarlets are penalised for offside. The Ulstermen decided to kick for the posts and scrum half John Cooney brought them level.
Ulster winger Jacob Stockdale then ran through Scarlets defence scoring the first try of the evening in the corner. Cooney’s conversion attempt was wide of the mark but Ulster go ahead for the first time.
Lewis Rawlins is taken for a HIA assessment after a big tackle from Sean Reidy. He catches him high and both go off for an assessment. Steve Cummins is on for Rawlins.
Scarlets stepped up the pace a little after that tackle pushed in to Ulster’s 22. An attacking phase sees Steff Evans cross the line. Patchell added the conversion putting the Scarlets back in front.
With only six minutes of the first half remaining Ulster got a second try through winger Henry Speight after a period of pressure in the home side’s 22. He crossed in the far corner making it too difficult a conversion for Cooney.
The Scarlets got a foothold late in the first half but couldn’t turn the pressure in to points, kicking the ball in to touch. Ulster kicked themselves out of the pressure position and the score finishes 10-13 at half time.
Scarlets returned to the field in advance of Ulster looking to get a strong start to the second half. Some positive play returns in the form of pressure for Scarlets but unusual handling errors meant that Ulster keep themselves in Scarlets territory.
Ulster were then awarded a scrum penalty on Scarlets’ 10 metre line despite their tighthead pulling the scrum down. They kicked to the corner and set up an attacking phase with a line out on the 22. Centre Will Addison crossed under the posts and scrum half Cooney adds the conversion, 10-20.
As the game passed the 50-minute mark the Scarlets began to find their mojo. Jonathan Davies got them moving in to opposition territory.
The Scarlets ran it from the base of the scrum. There was great work from the forwards to win important territorial gains but they were then penalised for holding on and Ulster won a penalty under the posts which they kicked to touch.
Johnny McNicholl got the Scarlets moving once again in the right direction. He had great support from his backline and winger Steff Evans gathers and spotted a gap on the touchline to go over the whitewash for his second of the evening. Patchell added the conversion to make it 17-20.
Just as soon as Scarlets get back within three points Ulster hit back with a third try. They got down in to Scarlets territory and ran strongly in midfield and despite what looks like a knock on play continues. Number eight Marcell Coetzee crossed the whitewash. Captain Ken Owens protests that there was a potential knock on and the referee consults the TMO for confirmation. He’s happy that the ball goes back and try is awarded. The wind pulled the conversion attempt across the posts.
Scarlets got back down in to Ulster territory. Johnny McNicholl gets the ball out to Steff Evans who ran along the touchline. He looked like he may make it a hat-trick but he was bundled in to touch.
Scarlets kept building and a try came from replacement flanker Dan Davis. Dan Jones added the conversion but the Scarlets were still a point behind.
The clock turned 80 but the Scarlets managed to keep the game alive. They won a penalty in the shadow of Ulster’s uprights, a kick to touch handed them a line out on the 10-metre line. Scarlets made territorial gains but they were unable to get the penalty required and Ulster saw the game out.
FC Carmarthen earn a point against Felinfoel
TWO late goals for FC Carmarthen earned them a point against Felinfoel on Saturday (Dec 4) as their game finished 2-2.
Felinfoel are yet to lose a game this season and it looked like they were on course for another win but goals in the 74th and 85th minutes of the game earned a point for the visitors.
Chris James had put the Division 1 leaders ahead in the first half as he scored from the penalty spot.
He then doubled Felinfoel’s lead on 58 minutes and they looked set to go on and earn their thirteenth win of the season.
FC Carmarthen had other ideas though and they pulled a goal back through Osian Thomas.
Thomas then completed the comeback five minutes from the end.
Both sides looked for a winner but were forced to settle for a point apiece.
On Saturday, December 11, Felinfoel are at home to Camford Sports while FC Carmarthen travel to Kidwelly Town.
PHOTO by Darren Harries
Amman United earn first win
AMMAN United claimed their first Division 3 West victory of the season with a hard-fought success on a bitingly cold afternoon at Penygroes.
Very little of note happened during the opening quarter as errors and knock-ons spoiled the flow.
Then, the visitors drew first blood on 20 minutes when, out of the blue, a well-worked move from a midfield break saw centre Steff Davies cut in to score under the posts, outside half Tom Caddell converting.
Amman had a strong wind at their backs in the first half, and with lock Jason Knell making some good yardage, they shaded the territory.
Penygroes were winning in the lineouts, but were squandering some good possession.
Try-scorer Davies limped off, to be replaced by Liam Poole, and, a wind-assisted Caddell long range penalty before halftime gave the Reds a 10-0 interval lead.
The boot of Tom Caddell stretched the lead after the restart to 13-0, but the home side were starting to get more joy in attack, prop Ben Jackson impressing with his workrate, and, after he was tackled short of the line, lock Dan Rees gathered and went over for the try, full back Nicholas Morris adding the conversion.
Caddell kept Amman’s score ticking along with another penalty, and, in the final quarter, the visitors brought on their very own “bomb squad” as Rhys Phillips, Harley Davies and Rhydian Jones entered the fray, with great effect.
With much more cohesion in attack, Jones impressed around the pitch particularly, and with some ten minutes left, full-back Joel Foster’s excellent work put the try on a plate for backrow man Jac Isaac to cross the line for a converted score.
George Clarke also featured with some telling Amman runs as they continued to press, Penygroes only threatening sporadically, full back Nicholas Morris the pick of their backs; but they lacked a real cutting edge to finish off their good work.
United’s win was rubber-stamped when scrum half Alex Williams gleefully divebombed over for a third Amman try with minutes left.
To their credit, the home side battled manfully to the end, and were rewarded with a try with the final move of the game as Rhys Gealey scored as the final whistle was blown.
Amman will be at Cwmamman Park on Saturday, December 11, when they entertain New Dock Stars.
Risca earn win over Ammanford
AMMANFORD travelled to Ystrad Mynach on Friday night (Dec 3) to face Risca United on their artificial pitch.
The Valley mist was slowly rolling across the sky and hovering just above the pitch. A healthy crowd sat in the large stand waited for the teams’ arrival.
Ammanford were in their green kit whilst Risca were in their usual black and white striped shirts.
The visitors got off to the perfect start with only ten minutes played when Ammanford captain Lee Trundle skilfully turned on the edge of the Risca penalty area and slotted the ball into the corner of the Risca net.
Both sides pressed each other but Ammanford’s lead lasted until minutes before half time when the home side were awarded a penalty.
Risca’s Leon Thomas duly despatched the spot kick into the Ammanford net to level it up at 1-1.
The second half saw both sides pressing for that second goal with no quarter given by either side which kept the referee busy in the production of several yellow cards.
It was Risca that made the breakthrough in the 68th minute of the game when their substitute Harvey Selway assisted team mate Leon Thomas to get his second goal of the game as he broke through the middle of the Ammanford defence and placed his shot past Ammanford keeper Craig Morris to give his side the lead.
Ammanford did their best to respond and Brett Enoch came the closest with a couple of attempts in the last ten minutes of the game.
It wasn’t enough for Ammanford as final whistle blew and it was Risca who celebrated the victory.
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