Just like eating and drinking far, far too much over Christmas, you’ll miss the Rabo when it’s gone.
So join us for minute-by-minute coverage of this top-of-the-table clash from Ravenhill before our provincial bread and butter disappears for a month.
Ulster 47 – 17 Llanelli Scarlets
19.10 – Ruan Pienaar leads out Ulster, it’s the Springbok’s 50th cap for his adopted province. The crowd are hymning a beautiful SUFTUM and…
KICK OFF: Thomas, at the second attempt, puts the ball on Ulster’s 22. The clearance gives Scarlets possession in midfield, but Thomas’ kick is metres too long and out on the full.
19.18 – PENALTY: Ulster 0 – 3 Scarlets (Thomas ’8)
The home side are pinged at the phase following that scrum and from directly in front Thomas can make no mistake.
19.25 – Ulster just a phase or two away from some very meaningful momentum. Gilroy launched a decent counter-attack on the left where he fed Chris Henry. The move gained further yards through Williams, but his offload was spilled by Lewis Stevenson.
The visitors make their way back up to Ulster’ five-metre line where their line-out is in all kinds of trouble. Herring’s throw goes long and is intercepted. Ulster illegally slow the play down to avoid conceding a try.
19.32 – What I neglected to mention amidst the fury was that Adam D’Arcy has hobbled off injured. Ricky Andrew is in at fullback in his place.
19.37 – That man Pienaar just can’t help being class. The Springbok collected a kick on the left in his own 22, glided across his goal before sneaking between two tacklers and releasing a perfect offloads for Andrew to race up the right.
Jackson attempts a cross-kick, but it’s intercepted and chipped on. The breathless period didn’t stop there, however. Luke Marshall was the next to make a break after Gilroy recovered the kick. The centre knocked on after getting hit from behind.
19.50 – Straight from the restart the host are on the charge again, Tuohy this time making inroads. The move ends in another knock-on but Luke Marshall redeems himself with some very soft hands on the left wing leading to a penalty.
PENALTY: Ulster 9 – 3 Scarlets (Pienaar ’37)
The toughest of the night for Pienaar, never looked likely to go wide.
19.52 – HALF TIME: Ulster 9 – 3 Scarlets
20.15 – PENALTY 19 – 3 Scarlets (Pienaar ’47)
The South African lands his 14th point of the game. Momentum only going one way now, even George North is on the retreat.
20.32 – The man of the match vote is certainly between Williams and Pienaar. My vote goes to the South Africa, but our esteemed friends at Emerald Rugby have simpler tastes.
20.45 – TRY: Ulster 26 – 10 Scarlets (Turnbull ‘ 67)
The visitors manage to warm up the quickest after the stoppage, helped by the fact they had the ball in Ulster territory. After a good line from Davies in midfield back-row Josh Turnbull showed his acceleration to power at the try-line on an inside-out angle.
The conversion is well struck too, Scarlets have a chance of getting something now.
20.48 – Ulster briefly attempt to slow the pace down with harmless possession, but after the ball spills behind Trimble, they turn up the heat again and a lovely little dummy from Gilroy lets him steal 20 metres.
21.03 – TRY: Ulster 47 – 15 Scarlets (Williams ’80)
The Scarlets manage another consolation just before the full time whistle.
21.08 – FULL TIME: Ulster 47 – 15 Scarlets
“When we put it on, we put it on.” Says 58-minute man of the match Nick Williams.
An astonishing second half display from the league leaders at Ravenhill. They stretch their lead at the Pro12 summit with a full month to pass before they are next in action in this competition.
Of course, next week brings the Heineken Cup and head coach Mark Anscombe was keen to highlight what must be improved for that test.