Match Page 2017-18 - Scoreboard WP ID: 132

Match Page 2017-18 - Last Time WP ID: 133

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing WP: 134

Match Page 2017-18 - H2H WP: 136

Match Page 2017-18 - Last 3 Matches WP: 142

Match Page 2017-18 - Season so Far WP:141

Preview: Ulster v Scarlets

Paul Eddison 14 Sep 2017

By the end of Friday at least one team will see its 100 percent record ended as the champions Scarlets travel to Belfast to take on Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium, in a game that kicks off at 7.35pm.

What’s at stake? This time last year, it was Ulster and the Scarlets who were doing battle in the closing stages of the season for the final play-off spot, with the Welsh team eventually sneaking in (and leapfrogging compatriots the Ospreys). From there they became the first team to win an away semi-final and claimed the title, while Ulster were left to think what might have been. This year both teams have made fine starts, with the Scarlets a perfect ten points from ten, and Ulster just behind with nine.

Team news (Ulster): Les Kiss has made four changes to the side that beat Benetton Rugby with Chris Henry coming straight into the side as captain. Also included are Kyle McCall at loosehead prop, second row Alan O’Connor and centre Luke Marshall.

Team news (Scarlets): The Scarlets welcome back skipper Ken Owens for the first time since May after he was named in the starting line-up. He missed the run-in through injury before touring with the Lions, and he will be joined by a couple of fellow tourists, Leigh Halfpenny back in the side and Jonathan Davies named on the bench.

Talking points: There will be a sombre atmosphere at the Kingspan Stadium as this game marks the five-year anniversary of the death of Nevin Spence. The promising young centre passed away, along with father Noel and brother Graham, in a farming accident exactly five years ago.

Key battle: There are plenty of interesting head-to-heads, but we’ll focus on the battle on the wing where in-form Johnny McNicholl goes up against Jacob Stockdale. The Ulsterman was one of the top try-scorers in last year’s competition, while McNicholl has made a storming start to this campaign. The winner of that battle could play a large part in the final outcome.

Key stat: The Scarlets have won nine games in a row in the Guinness PRO14 and can equal their best-ever run in the competition with victory in Belfast.

Did you know? When the two sides met last season the home team was triumphant on both occasions, whilst Scarlets’ only victory in Belfast since September 2008 was 21-20 in February 2016.

Ulster: L Ludik; A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Herring, W Herbst; K Treadwell, A O’Connor; C Henry, S Reidy, J Deysel.

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, R Diack, M Rea, P Marshall, P Nelson, T Bowe.

Scarlets: L Halfpenny; J McNicholl, H Parkes, S Williams, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, K Owens, S Lee, J Ball, T Beirne, A Shingler, W Boyde, J Barclay

Replacements: R Elias, W Jones, W Kruger, D Bulbring, J Macleod, J Evans, R Jones, J Davies

TV: BBC Sport NI/BBC Sport Wales/TG4 (KO 7.35pm)

Match officials – Referee: Quinton Immelman (SARU). Assistant Referee 1: Craig Evans (WRU). AR2: Rhys Thomas (WRU). TMO: Rhys Thomas (WRU)

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Historical Lineup Pre Opta (sfms data) - Preview - v2

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Ulster clinch dramatic late victory over Scarlets

Charlie Peat 15 Sep 2017

John Andrew’s dramatic late try sealed an enthralling victory for Ulster as they inflicted defeat on defending champions Scarlets at the Kingspan Stadium.

Masterful kicking from John Cooney had put Ulster in control in a quiet first half before the game burst into life in the second phase.

Three tries in six whirlwind minutes saw the defending champions wrestle back the advantage as first John McNicholl and then Jonathan Davies went over the line after Jacob Stockdale had given Ulster a slender lead.

Christian Leali’ifano’s penalty levelled things up for the hosts before Andrew rounded-off a fine Ulster move with three minutes to go to seal a thrilling triumph.

It was an emotional night in Belfast after a minute’s silence was held to mark the five-year anniversary since the death of promising young centre Nevin Spence, who died along with his father Noel and brother Graham, in a farming accident.

Following the moving tribute, it was the visitors that started off the brighter, quickly hitting the front through the boot of Leigh Halfpenny.

The hosts responded immediately to the setback and began to dominate the ball without breaking the Scarlets backline.

It would take until the 23rd minute for the Ulstermen to finally make an incisive breakthrough and were yards from the line but Matthew Rea was unable to keep possession after 21 phases of Ulster play.

The excellent kicking of scrum-half Cooney gave Ulster a six-point lead at the break but Les Kiss would have been left frustrated at his side’s inability to get over the whitewash.

An early penalty extended the Ulstermen’s lead but Scarlets finally gave themselves a lifeline with 20 minutes to play.

A breakdown in an Ulster attack gave way to a swift counter from the visitors which was finished off by McNicholl. Halfpenny’s simple conversion put them in front despite long spells on the back foot.

That only spurred the home side into life as a scintillating try nudged the Ulstermen back in front.

Stuart McCloskey charged down the wing before offloading to Sean Reidy who was able to find Stockdale as he burst over the try line.

But that was far from the end of the drama as Scarlets hit back again. Ulster were left short down the wing which allowed Steff Evans to exploit the space and tee up Davies, who waltzed over the line to round off a breathtaking six minutes of rugby.

Leali’ifano’s penalty levelled things up to set up a tense finish but there would be a final sting in the tail as Andrew went over the whitewash with three minutes remaining.

McCloskey was able to ride a tackle on the halfway line before the ball was eventually recycled and went wide to hooker Andrew who was left with the Kingspan turf all to himself as he went over to clinch a dramatic victory.

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie

Match Page 2017-18 - Summary WP:137

Match Page 2017-18 - Match Data WP: 140

Match Page 2017-18 - Timeline WP:139

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups WP: 135

Match Page 2017-18 - Performance WP:138