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Ulster Move To Top Spot

jmcconnell 4 Nov 2004

Bryn Cunningham scored the game’s only try after just four minutes and so it proved decisive in a clash that was dampened by the Belfast weather. Rain and wind lashed Ravenhill throughout the second-half with neither side able to add to the half-time score as Ulster held on to leapfrog two points ahead of the Scarlets, who at least claimed a bonus point, and The Dragons.

For Llanelli it was a harsh reality check after the euphoria of their stunning victory at Northampton in the Heineken Cup just five days earlier. They had lost eight players to international duty as well as Mark Jones to injury so it was perhaps no surprise that they started the slower. Ulster, meanwhile, had lost their key playmaker David Humphreys and top try scorer Tyrone Howe but it was coincidentally their replacements – Adam Larkin and Scott Young – who created the try. Larkin was hauled down just short of the line following a series of early mistakes by the Scarlets and when visiting scrum-half Michael Phillips tried to clear the danger, Young hit back. His break found space for No 8 Roger Wilson who drew the last man before sending Cunningham over under the posts. Larkin converted. Phillips responded with a drop goal, after outside-half Gareth Bowen saw his penalty rebound off the post though slotted over two further attempts as Llanelli established a foothold at 9-7. However Scott Quinnell was penalised and Larkin banged over his penalty from some 40 metres on the stroke of half-time.

That was the boost Ulster needed as their pack took a stranglehold on the game in the second-half and though Larkin missed two kicks in the strong wind, so did Bowen as a home crowd of 6,600 celebrated a notable scalp.

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