Pienaar kicks Ulster home
February 18, 2011
Ruan Pienaar kicked Ulster to victory
© Getty Images
Ulster picked up a narrow 18-16 Magners League win over the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Friday thanks to the boot of Ruan Pienaar.
The hosts went into injury time thinking they had the match in the bag, but they were penalised from a scrum and Pienaar - who ended the match with all 18 points from six penalties - watched as his sixth kick just crept over the bar.
It sent Ulster into raptures and left Scarlets shellshocked, the hosts having to settle for a losing bonus point which took them up to third in the table. They had led the match since a 22nd-minute penalty try and were indebted to 11 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland.
Fly-half Ian Humphreys was a late Ulster withdrawal after suffering a recurrence of the shoulder injury he suffered in a 23-22 defeat against the Ospreys last Sunday, opening the way for 19-year-old Paddy Jackson to make his first start for the Irish province.
The Scarlets welcomed back four internationals to the starting line-up including Priestland and Josh Turnbull, who won their first Wales caps against Scotland last weekend, and Scotland wing Sean Lamont.
Like they had at the Ospreys last week, Ulster opened up a 6-0 lead with two penalty goals for scrum-half Pienaar, who also created his side's best chance of a try with a 30-metre dash from a line-out. Those kicks were cancelled out with penalties for Priestland on 12 and 15 minutes.
From then on the Scarlets took the game to Ulster up front, wing Gareth Maule taking fullback Adam D'Arcy over his own line before three five-metre scrums earned the home side a penalty try.
Though the Scarlets had the upper hand in the scrum, their line-out failed to function which kept Ulster in the hunt. The pack earned a third penalty for Pienaar at the set-piece. Two minutes from half-time the Scarlets restored their seven-point lead with a sweetly-struck drop-goal from Priestland.
With the rain hammering down, the second half was not a pretty affair and was littered with mistakes but, with the wind, Ulster had the upper hand and got to within a point of the Scarlets with Pienaar penalties on 48 and 60 minutes.
The Scarlets must have thought they had done enough to seal the points, which would have taken them up to second in the table, until No.8 Ben Morgan slipped his binding at a scrum to allow Pienaar to win it.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action