Ferris double sinks Scarlets
December 2, 2011
Stephen Ferris was once again the toast of Ulster with his double
© Getty Images
A Stephen Ferris double helped Ulster on their way to a 24-17 win over the Scarlets at Ravenhill.
Ferris' scores came at key moments in the game, his first just before half-time and the second arriving four minutes after the hour. But Ulster had to withstand a tricky final 10 minutes after prop Adam Macklin was binned moments after coming on, allowing Scarlets to score their only points of the second half from Kieran Murphy's try and Stephen Jones' conversion, which earned them a losing bonus point.
Ulster had a nightmare start as they gifted their opponents a try. Moments after Dan Tuohy had missed the kick-off reception, Pedrie Wannenburg threw an intercept pass which was easily picked off by Sean Lamont as the home side attempted to move the ball out of their 22 while playing into the wind and rain. Jones was wide with the conversion, as was Ian Humphreys with his ninth-minute penalty attempt - after scrum-half Gareth Davies was offside at a scrum - which hit the upright and stayed out.
Just after the first quarter, the Scarlets moved the ball wide to the right and Adam Warren's skip pass found new signing Viliami Iongi in space. The strong-running Tongan beat Darren Cave and Craig Gilroy failed to hold him as he made the right corner. Again Jones was wide with the difficult conversion, but Humphreys did manage to get Ulster moving with a 21st-minute penalty to make it 10-3 to the visitors.
Ulster, though far from convincing, got a break when Daniel Evans was binned for tackling Paul Marshall without the ball after the Ulster scrum-half had made a great burst down the left wing. The result was another marvellous burst down the right from Marshall who kicked ahead and collected to set up a great platform for Ulster, which saw the ball recycled again and Ferris smash his way over in the left corner from Humphreys' pass. Humphreys missed the conversion.
Ulster had another opportunity but Nevin Spence's pass to Cave was forward and the half ended with Scarlets leading 10-8 after playing with the elements. Ulster hit back straight after the resumption when Spence was high-tackled and Humphreys put Ulster in front for the first time with his strike from under the posts. And he then stretched Ulster's lead to 14-10 with another strike after 45 minutes.
Just before the hour mark, Scarlets again transgressed at a ruck and Humphreys nailed the long-range, wind-assisted effort. After 64 minutes the ball was spun wide from a lineout and Ferris smashed through Rhodri Williams to score his second, which Humphreys converted to take Ulster's lead to a seemingly unassailable 24-10.
However, Ulster finished the game with 14 men as prop Macklin was binned for slowing the ball down just after he had come on for John Afoa. Scarlets immediately punished them with a Murphy try off a scrum near the posts which was converted by Jones - but it did not threaten Ulster's victory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in Pictures
Last year's thrashing at the hands of Wales was not the first time England have fallen to their rivals. Scrum Sevens looks at whether they have bounced back the following year