It was billed as the top of the table clash, yet the skills on show left a lot to be desired.
The Scarlets, depleted severely by the WRU’s insistence of Wales playing an extra fixture outside of the international window, were facing an Ulster side that was close to full strength, with replacements of the calibre of Bowe on the bench to call on.
The conditions, with the rain pouring down, did not allow for an expansive game.
The Scarlets had been dealt a further blow before kick off with the late withdrawal of experienced centre Gareth Maule, with Llanelli RFC’s Nick Reynolds being called into replace him, Owen Williams moving on to the bench.
It was a bright enough start by the home side, yet fly half Aled Thomas missed with his first shot at goal.
Defence was set to rule the day as neither side could drive far enough into the opponents 22 to truly threaten.
It was 3-3 when a gamble on an intercept paid off for Ulsters’ Andrew Trimble and he raced down the pitch to score. It was to be the only try of the match.
The second half continued in a similar fashion, with the Scarlets’ lineout and scrum wobbling, yet Ulster despite having longer period of possession and internationals to call on, could only mirror their opponents by creating nothing. The only slight flicker of excitement came from the yellow carding of Ulsters Dan Tuohy for repeated spoiling of the ball at the breakdown.
It was an exchange of kicks again that kept the score board ticking over, and it seemed that an easy miss from Scarlets’ Aled Thomas could cost them dear. Yet a late rally in the scrum from the homeside earned them a last second shot at goal, which Thomas managed to slot over, earning the Scarlets a much needed losing bonus point.
Ulster will leave west Wales with a valuable four points, yet their uninspiring display could give their fans some cause for concern going forward into the next rounds of the European cup.
For the Scarlets it was almost a game of missed chances, yet a losing bonus point could prove very important as the season progresses and it was a very hard fought one considering the unnecessary strain placed on their squad.
A good advert for the Pro 12 it was not, and both teams will be looking for a big improvement in their next game.
Full time score: Scarlets 12 – 19 Ulster
Scarlets: Newton, K Phillips, Reynolds, Owen, Fenby, A Thomas, G Davies, John, E Phillips, Adriaanse, Snyman, Kelly, Earle, J Edwards, Murphy.
Replacements: Myhill, Hopkins, Manu, Vallejos, Price, A Davies, O Williams, Warren.
Ulster: Nelson, Trimble, Cave, L. Marshall, Gilroy, Jackson, P Marshall, Black, Herring, Afoa, Muller, McComb, Henderson, Diack, Wilson.
Replacements: Best, Court, Lutton, Tuohy, McComish, Heaney, O’Connor, Bowe.