Ulster breezed to a five-try victory over the Scarlets this evening which sees them consolidate second spot in Conference A.
Matt Faddes grabbed a brace while Matty Rea, Robert Baloucoune and John Cooney added the other scores in what was a very comfortable evening for the Ulstermen.
I’m not sure Dan McFarland could have wished for a better start. Matt Faddes latched onto a Stuart McCloskey kick while a John Cooney snipe down the blindside put Ulster 12 points up inside ten minutes. Two tries became three after 18 minutes when Matty Rea was the beneficiary of a nice Ulster maul.
Ulster got great success through their kicking game which kept Brad Mooar’s men on the back foot without possession or territory. It wasn’t until after the 20th minute when the away side had their hands on the ball inside the Ulster half.
It felt like Ulster were always playing with a man advantage as Bill Johnston kept finding Robert Baloucoune with kick passes allowing the home side to continually break the gain line. Baloucoune himself put in an excellent shift in the first half, pulling off a few decent tackles while he also had the beating of his opposite number. The Hinch man was rewarded with the bonus point try on 28 minutes and went to win the man of the match award with a super display.
It was a much more relaxed start to second half. The visitors had a bit more of the possession but mistakes prevented them from getting into the Ulster 22. Similarly errors from the home side meant it was a fairly uneventful third quarter.
Indeed the final quarter was a bit of a damp squib. Ulster seemed content to hold on to their 24-point lead and were put through their paces by a much-improved Scarlets side. Mooar’s men finally crossed the whitewash with five minutes to go before Faddes added his second try in the penultimate play of the match.
It was a match that Ulster should have won comfortably and they duly delivered with a first half performance that blew the Scarlets away. Bill Johnston and John Cooney controlled the game from half back varying the play nicely while Nick Timoney had a big impact in defence off the bench putting in 18 tackles in 29 second half minutes.
Stuart McCloskey, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy Kieran Treadwell all had great performances while Tom O’Toole was an elusive ball carrier in the second half. With so many players who are not in the reckoning for a starting spot in Europe, Dan McFarland will have a few tough calls to make midweek.
That’s now three wins on the bounce with a home tie against Harlequins coming up. Two wins should be the target for Dan McFarland and Ulster.