Ulster make it a seven-game winning start with a bonus point win over Scarlets on Sunday night.
Rob Lyttle, Stewart Moore, Sean Reidy and Kieran Treadwell crossed the white wash but the game was not without controversy as Treadwell received a yellow card on 16 minutes but replays indicate it should have been red!
Ulster (19) 26
TRY: Rob Lyttle, Stewart Moore, Sean Reidy, Kieran Treadwell
CON: John Cooney (2), Bill Johnston
Scarlets (7) 24
TRY: Paul Asquith, Ryan Conbeer, Steff Evans, Phil Price
CON: Angus O’Brien (2)
Initially referee Andrea Piardi was siding with a red card but downgraded to a yellow under the influence of TMO Brian MacNeice. The slow motion angle confirmed that Treadwell caught Javan Sebastian‘s head with his shoulder.
Let’s look at the framework provided by World Rugby. First of all we have to establish whether it’s a shoulder charge or a high tackle. Looking at Treadwell’s position is left arm is no in a position to wrap around the body and make a tackle. For me it is tucked to his body indicating a shoulder charge or no arms tackle. For this we need to look at the shoulder charge framework.
As he made contact with the head, the process starts at red card and as there were no mitigating factors no downgrade should have been made possible.
Why was it downgraded to yellow?
I believe TMO Brian MacNeice followed the high tackle guidelines:
Contact was made by the Treadwell’s shoulder but what is key is the degree of danger. He doesn’t follow through with the shoulder indicating a low degree of danger and Brian MacNeice mentions “minimal force in the contact area” which is a mitigating factor.
Ultimately I believe it was a shoulder charge making contact to the head and should have been a red card.
Red card or not, Treadwell went on to put in a fantastic performance but this was a match Ulster were very lucky to win. The Welsh side played with great confidence and often exploited a narrow Ulster defence. The home side gave away a number of stupid penalties in kickable positions but Scarlets’ Dan Jones was unable to convert.
Lyttle added the first try after six minutes when he was put through by Matt Faddes. A wicked step allowed him to beat Angus O’Brien and put a buoyant Ulster side 5-0 up. A deserved lead for the home side as they were dangerous up front, making metres with every carry and breaking the gainline regularly.
Paul Asquith responded for Scarlets after The Incident before Stewart Moore latched onto an intercept to scamper home for his third try this season. Sean Reidy put in another man of the match performance and crossed for Ulster’s third try on the stroke of half time giving Dan McFarland‘s side a 12-point lead.
Some would say this was an unwarranted lead, but the home side were clinical in the Scarlets red zone. Michael Lowry continued to impress at 15 beating the first tackler four times while Rob Lyttle and Matt Faddes were lively when they got the ball.
Up front Eric O’Sullivan, Treadwell and Sean Reidy made some big carries with the prop putting in another fantastic performance. O’Sullivan was my man of the match but has been duly rewarded with an Irish call up ahead of the Georgia match this Saturday.
In the second half Ulster became quite sloppy. Ryan Conbeer gathered a great kick from Steff Hughes shortly after the break while Matt Faddes was carded for an accumulation of offences. John Cooney, Rob Lyttle and Michael Lowry pulled off a fantastic try saving tackle six minutes later in what was a game changing moment. Lowry and Lyttle combined to tackle Conbeer while Cooney got his body between the ball and the ground to hold up Steff Evans. The more I see of Lowry the less likely I would be inclined to move him from 15.
In the second half Ulster made silly errors which put themselves under unwanted pressure. The decision making during Faddes yellow card was dubious and resulted in a Steff Evans try. A misfiring lineout provided the visitors with a golden chance when time was up but a forward pass allowed Ulster to win by the skin of their teeth.
It was written in the stars that Treadwell could crash over for the bonus point and match winning try while Scarlets Phil Price crashed over for fourth try for his side although the referee and TMO missed accidental obtstruction when Price was three metres from the line even though “break away” was the call from referee Piardi.
Ulster: Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes, Luke Marshall, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Bill Johnston, John Cooney, Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, Dave O’Connor, Jordi Murphy, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Craig Gilroy.
Scarlets: Angus O’Brien, Ryan Conbeer, Steff Hughes, Paul Asquith, Steff Evans, Dan Jones, Dane Blacker, Rob Evans, Taylor Davies, Javon Sebastian, Sam Lousi, Danny Drake, Ed Kennedy, Jac Morgan, Sione Kalamafoni. Replacements: Daf Hughes, Phil Price, Werner Kruger, Jac Price, Uzair Cassiem, Will Homer, Sam Costelow, Tyler Morgan
McFarland described the performance as “poor” post match. I thought Ulster were sloppy and made a few unforced errors in the game. Thankfully the Scarlets lineout wobbled in the last quarter, they dropped catches in the backfield giving the home side territory while two missed penalties and two missed conversions left ten points on the pitch.
The league table has Ulster on 33 points from 35, a terrific return in their opening seven matches. Sunday wasnt a wobble, but it should act as a reality check for the northern province.
Next up they have a trip to Murrayfield against Edinburgh, a ground where they have had a decent amount of success in the past.