19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland Squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been named for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia
Simon Danielli came in at full-back with Jared Payne a long term casualty, while Ireland's Andrew Trimble, Paddy Wallace and Tom Court returned at wing, centre and prop respectively.
Meanwhile, the province's captain Johann Muller and his Springbok compatriot Ruan Pienaar reclaimed their number 4 and 9 jerseys.
Ulster had the better of the early exchanges with good possession inside the home 22, and were rewarded with a ninth minute penalty after the hosts had strayed offside.
Ian Humphreys opened his account with a measured kick and Ulster maintained the same amount of pressure as the clock ticked into double figures.
Solid defence from Scarlets hooker Ken Owens, however, broke up the threat on the quarter hour, eventually forcing Ulster to illegally handle in the ruck as they tried to push forward.
Two more Ulster indiscretions at the breakdown came in quick succession, the second of which allowed Humphreys' opposite number Aled Thomas line up a shot at the posts only five metres inside his half. The kick was pulled wide however.
Yet, as the game moved into the second quarter, handling errors began to creep into the Ulster game - with several of the returning World Cup players the main culprits in admittedly slippery conditions.
At this stage the Scarlets began to stamp more and more authority on the match, and deservedly drew level in the 28th minute when Thomas split the posts from close in.
The out-half was on hand again seven minutes later to double his personal tally with a second penalty, and ease his side into the lead for the first time in the encounter.
Then, just as the half seemed ready to peter out, winger Liam Williams somehow managed to wriggle his way through a defensive hole and slip unchallenged between the Ulster posts. Thomas added the extras to top off a patiently-crafted first half performance from the Welshmen.
When play resumed in the second period, the Scarlets were still on the offensive. Sean Lamont, in particular, caused concern in the Ulster midfield in the opening minutes.
But a 45th minute infringement from the hosts took the pressure off Ulster temporarily, giving Humphreys the opportunity to kick at goal from five metres inside the Scarlets' half. The penalty fell short, but Ulster were buoyed and went on to apply good, constructive pressure from the restart.
The Scarlets were then caught offside once more, and this time, from much closer range, Humphreys reduced the gap to 13-6.
As the game neared the hour mark, Lamont continued to create mayhem in the Ulster defence, earning another penalty which Thomas again dispatched with aplomb.
But Humphreys once more kept his team in touch by clawing three points back from directly in front of the posts, and Ulster proceeded to put in their most constructive move of the game.
A superb 30-metre dash from Trimble saw him carve though the Scarlets midfield before he was eventually crowded out.
Then, as if from nowhere, Ulster grabbed a try to a stunned silence from the home crowd. A clever kick through by Pienaar was treated much too casually by the Scarlets behind their own try-line, allowing Trimble to ghost in at the right corner and touch down.
Humphreys' conversion attempt struck the upright but Ulster were right back in it at 16-14 down.
Nonetheless, with ten minutes remaining and the game there for the taking, the Scarlets showed the greater initiative.
It came as no surprise that out-half Thomas was instrumental in the match-winning move, pushing his way to the Ulster line and Adam Warren then picked up and surged over for the decisive try. Thomas' missed conversion left seven points between the sides.
A penalty from replacement Dan Newton in the 78th minute looked as if it would add insult to injury by depriving Ulster of a deserved bonus point, but there was just enough time for Humphreys to kick his fourth successful penalty and salvage the single point.
Ulster will now look to put a stop to a four-match losing streak next Saturday when their provincial rivals Connacht pitch up at Ravenhill.
Speaking afterwards, Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin admitted there is plenty to work on but remains in a positive mood with some tough games on the horizon.
"We started well and scored a penalty and maybe could have scored a try in the early periods, but the Scarlets put us under a bit of pressure before half-time," he said.
"We thought we defended exceptionally well, we counter-rucked brilliantly twice during that period but unfortunately the ball spilled out and they scored under the posts. It was a real fluke of a try but it's one of those things.
"In the second half the Scarlets came at us again but we clawed our way back to 16-14 and we put ourselves in a position to possibly win the game. But a defensive error let them away.
"We're disappointed not to win it but at least we got a bonus point in the end. Credit to the boys for fighting to the end. The conditions were very poor for both sides which didn't help either."
|Scarlets Score Card|
|Ulster Rugby Score Card|