Pienaar's imperious form wins it

Fri, 10 May 2013 21:03
Large ruan pienaar ulster 630 Large ruan pienaar ulster v saint Large ruan pienaar ulster passes Large ruan pienaar ulster Large ruan pienaar ulster ball 63

Ulster romped into their first-ever Pro12 Final thanks to a display full of power and poise at Ravenhill, putting the Scarlets to the sword with a 28-17 victory.

Ulster romped into their first-ever Pro12 Final thanks to a display full of power and poise at Ravenhill, putting the Scarlets to the sword with a 28-17 victory.

The Pro12 table-toppers scored three fine tries through Tommy Bowe, Robbie Diack and Tom Court and while livewire Gareth Davies scored a delightful solo effort and Sione Timani grabbed one late on for the Scarlets, Ulster were too strong for their Welsh opponents.

Ruan Pienaar was in imperious form at scrumhalf, while No.8 Nick Williams was at his destructive best and with Jared Payne's broken-field running lighting the touch paper, Ulster blew the Scarlets away.

But the Scarlets, keen to improve on last weekend's poor showing against Treviso, began the brighter and enjoyed the better of the early possession, taking the lead with a fourth-minute penalty after Dan Tuohy was offside.

Owen Williams, a late addition to the starting line-up after Rhys Priestland failed to come through the warm-up, made no mistake and booted the visitors into a 3-0 lead.

It took less than two minutes for Ulster to hit back however and good work from the Ulster forwards saw Scarlets lock Joe Snyman pinged for holding on - Pienaar kicking the penalty to level things up.

As the half wore on, it was the Scarlets who continued to carry the fight to Ulster but too many errors from both sides crept in and near could create any clear try-scoring opportunities.

But the game was brought to life on 19 minutes with a scything run from Ulster fullback Payne, who signed on for another three years this week, as he romped his way through the Scarlets defence before putting the grubber through and only desperate defence from George North prevented fellow British & Irish Lion Bowe from gathering the ball.

A minute later, both sides were reduced to 14 men when Andrew Trimble and Liam Williams were sent to the sin bin for fighting and it was Ulster who dealt better with the numerical disadvantage.

Pienaar kicked a long-distance penalty to the corner and after his forwards set the position up, the South African fizzed a pass to Bowe on the left who this time beat North to score his 51st try in the competition.

Pienaar added the conversion and Ulster, led by Williams, who was named the Pro12's Players' Player of the Season, turned up the heat.

Pienaar struck the upright with a penalty after Jonathan Davies was offside but when he kicked to the corner on 33 minutes, a textbook Ulster lineout move saw a rolling maul cut through the Scarlets defence before Diack dotted down his seventh score of the Pro12 season.

The conversion from Pienaar struck the post again but he added a penalty on the stroke of half-time after a powerful Ulster scrum to give the hosts an 18-3 lead at the break.

Just three minutes into the second half came the score that appeared to end the match as a contest - Ulster centre Darren Cave making a piercing run following a scrum and while he fell just short of the try-line, prop Court quickly picked up the ball and dotted down.

Pienaar added the extras before a extended passage of stop-start play - thanks in no small part to a serious-looking injury to Scarlets hooker Ken Owens.

On the hour mark replacement scrumhalf Davies danced his way through to go over under the posts to give the Scarlets a glimmer of hope but a Pienaar plenty soon after kept them at arms' length.

The Scarlets refused to throw in the towel and did finish the game the stronger, with Timani powering over from close range but they could not get close enough, ensuring Ulster will face either Leinster or Glasgow Warriors in the Final.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries:
Bowe, Diack, Court
Cons: Pienaar 2
Pens: Pienaar 3

For the Scarlets:
Tries:
Davies, Timani
Cons: Williams 2
Pens: Williams

Yellow cards: Andrew Trimble (Ulster, 21), Liam Williams (Scarlets, 21)

Teams:

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Peter Nelson.

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Gareth Owen.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Andrew McMenemy, Adrian Graves (both Scotland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

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Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
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Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
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Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13 | 7
Sat, 17 February 2018
Cardiff Blues v Munster 25 | 18
Lions v Sharks 26 | 19
Leinster v Scarlets 20 | 13
PRO14
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 16 13 1 2 65
Munster 16 10 0 6 53
Cheetahs 15 8 0 7 41
Cardiff Blues 15 7 0 8 33
Connacht 15 5 0 10 28
Ospreys 15 5 0 10 26
Zebre 15 4 0 11 21
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 16 13 0 3 61
Scarlets 15 11 0 4 54
Edinburgh 16 11 0 5 51
Ulster 15 9 1 5 46
Treviso 15 8 0 7 38
Dragons 15 2 2 11 17
Kings 16 0 0 16 4