Two tries from Iain Henderson helped Ulster to a comfortable bonus point victory over Scarlets in the Heineken Champions Cup tonight.

Jacob Stockdale and John Cooney added the other two scores to give Ulster a crucial five-point win which sees them move to 14 points with a home match against Racing 92 and a trip to Leicester Tigers in the final two rounds.

John Cooney nudged Ulster ahead with an eight minute penalty but it wasn’t until the 33rd minute when the home side broke the try scoring deadlock.

Iain Henderson crossed after five minutes with a man advantage and camped on the opposition line. The British and Irish Lion bundled over from close range but, in truth, the try should have come earlier.

We were told to expect a retaliation from the Scarlets after last week’s defeat but they flattered to deceive and barely created anything in attack in the first 70 minutes.

Ulster’s defence was once again well drilled and only missed five tackles in the game. The Welsh side looked ponderous in attack which made it easy for the home side, however the defensive line made it difficult to get any front foot ball, resulting in just three linebreaks and six defenders beaten for Scarlets.

A 10-3 lead at half time did not reflect Ulster’s dominance and the game was levelled up when Jonathan Davies gathered a kick from Gareth Davies after the scrum half intercepted inside his own 22m line shortly after the interval.

Ulster responded with immediate effect. A kick pass found Henry Speight in space on the right wing before Billy Burns pulled off a perfectly weighted kick to the opposite flank for Jacob Stockdale to gather and score.

Try number three followed in a similar fashion. Ludik gathered a Burns’ kick in behind and took Ulster to within ten metres of the Scarlets line. The ball was recycled and eventually Henderson crossed for his second try just after the hour mark.

The bonus point try followed six minutes later. when John Cooney dotted down after fine forward work but it was Scarlets who were last on the board with a Tom Prydie try three minutes from the end.

The set piece continues to improve and Munster next week will give us a good indication of what level we are currently at in terms of scrum time and at lineout.

The most pleasing aspect about that performance for me was Ulster’s superb discipline. Only five penalties were conceded with the first coming in the 38th minute. Great discipline is a foundation for winning as it prevents the opposition from gaining easy possession and territory.

Sitting on 14 points Ulster are looking good, but crucially these two fantastic wins will give the province crucial momentum heading into a tough festive period.

7.1 Performance

Much like last week, I struggled to pick out an under-performer in the match.
Will Addison, Rory Best, Marcell Coetzee and Iain Henderson were all excellent but Billy Burns received the official man of the match award. I'm not sure he would have been my pick but I thought the former Gloucester man controlled the game well and his weighted kicks in behind the Scarlets defence was a major threat against the opposition.
Kieran Treadwell carried well in the forwards while I thought Coetzee and Murphy were unlucky to not receive a few turnover calls in the first half.
Henry Speight put in another solid performance and always made yards when taking the ball at first receiver.

  • Eric O'Sullivan 7
  • Rory Best 8
  • Marty Moore 7
  • Iain Henderson 9
  • Kieran Treadwell 8
  • Sean Reidy 7
  • Jordi Murphy 7
  • Marcell Coetzee 8
  • John Cooney 6
  • Billy Burns 9
  • Jacob Stockdale 7
  • Stuart McCloskey 7
  • Will Addison 9
  • Henry Speight 7
  • Louis Ludik 7
  • Rob Herring 6
  • Kyle McCall 6
  • Tom O'Toole 6
  • Matty Rea N/A
  • Nick Timoney 6
  • Dave Shanahan N/A
  • Johnny McPhillips 6
  • Darren Cave 7
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 6.6