Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

It’s the same old story for Ulster

Scarlets 43 Ulster 17

Ulster’s season ended with a six try to two defeat by the Scarlets in Wales meaning Matt Williams side finished third bottom in the Magners League above the Dragons and Connacht.

The eighth place finish is one better than last year but doesn’t represent a huge change in fortunes with the side still losing 11 out of their 18 games, although they did pick up one more win.

They did show glimpses of going in the right direction with a home and away double over Munster even though the champions didn’t have many of their front line players in either game.

There were wins at Glasgow and Connacht but consistency let Ulster down when they needed it most.

There was a three-game winning streak either side of the opening games in the Heineken Cup when they beat Edinburgh, Munster and Connacht all at Ravenhill.

Victory at Thomond Park was followed by a defeat in Edinburgh, a win in Glasgow was followed by a home defeat by the Blues.

If Ulster are to challenge next year then they must get off to a better start in the league than they did this year.

Four straight defeats meant Williams men were playing catch up from the first month of the season.

The last game against the Scarlets probably summed up the season as a whole. Too many errors, giving away soft tries at crucial times and a lack of discipline.

The writing was on the wall for Ulster after 89 seconds when Scarlets full back Daniel Evans was able to chip over a non-existent defence and gather to get the opening try.

Two more tries that owed more to poor defending than good attacking give the Scarlets a 22-3 lead after 20 minutes.

Paul Marshall looked lively at scrum half and was rewarded with a try after quick thinking from the base of a ruck took him past two defenders to cut the half time lead to 22-10.

Robbie Diack was yellow carded for a deliberate trip and the Scarlets scored one of their three second half tries while he was in the bin.

Ulster finished the campaign with a try from Young Player of the Year Darren Cave who won’t have done his chances of starting the first test against Canada any harm.

Cave’s final minute try means he finished joint leading scorer with Scottish winger Simon Danielli which each crossing the whitewash seven times.

In Europe Ulster won two and drew one of their six pool games to finish third in the group which was a marked improvement on the one win they had the previous year.

The Harlequins win at Ravenhill was one of the highlights but Ulster still await a first win on English and French soil in the competition and that will have to change next season if they are to make the quarter-finals for the first time since 1999.

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