United Rugby Championship: Stormers and Ulster ease past Scarlets and Zebre Parma

Stormers wing Leolin Zas Credit: Alamy
Stormers wing Leolin Zas Credit: Alamy

Ulster ran in six tries as they cruised past Zebre Parma in their United Rugby Championship clash at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

Hooker Tom Stewart scored twice while Matty Rea, Callum Reid, Stewart Moore and John Andrew also crossed, as the Irish province won at a canter.

Ulster did ship two yellow cards, with Sam Carter and Nathan Doak being sin binned in either half, while the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for Iain Henderson’s return from the replacements bench for his first game time since last June.

Zebre Parma scored tries from Lorenzo Pani and Erich Cronje.

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Ulster were up and running after just four minutes, when Stewart peeled around the front of a line-out. Doak missed the conversion from a difficult angle.

Four minutes later and nice hands from Marty Moore put James Hume through, and Rea scored near the posts allowing Doak to convert.

Geronimo Prisciantelli kicked a penalty for Zebre after 13 minutes and, following 16 more minutes of stalemate, Carter saw yellow for taking the visiting fly-half out.

Pani then scored from a sweeping backs move.

Prisciantelli missed the conversion and Ulster led 12-8. The home side hit back after tapping a penalty, with Reid driving over and Doak converting on 36 minutes.

The bonus-point score came in first-half added time when Moore side-stepped through, Doak’s conversion putting Ulster 26-8 in front at the break.

Doak was then shown yellow on 42 minutes for upending Simone Gesi.

However, the Italians failed to score in his absence and, following Doak’s return and the introduction of Henderson, Ulster launched a maul which saw Stewart score again.

Doak missed the extras and did so again when Andrew crossed from a maul for Ulster’s sixth try of the night.

With eight minutes to go, Andrew had a second score scrubbed out for an offence at the line-out and the game ended with Cronje scoring and Prisciantelli converting.

Scarlets suffer sixth loss as Stormers ease to win

Earlier, the Scarlets’ first-half failings cost them dear as they slipped to a 36-19 defeat against a weakened Stormers side in Cape Town.

With South Africa and Wales both in action this weekend, the hosts and their visitors were shorn of their Test stars, although the Scarlets still fielded an experienced XV boasting the likes of Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams and Johnny McNicholl.

However, Herschel Jantjies, Leolin Zas, Ernst van Rhyn and Hacjivah Dayimani secured a first-half try bonus for the defending URC champions, with Ryan Conbeer’s touchdown the Scarlets’ only response amid multiple wasted opportunities.

Dan du Plessis added the Stormers’ fifth try shortly after half-time, before a brief Scarlets revival saw Tom Rogers go over and Conbeer add his second.

However, the damage had already been done, and Stormers fly-half Kade Wolhuter ended the match with 11 points from the tee, while Dan Jones and Rhys Patchell kicked two points apiece for the visitors.

Jones skewed a penalty as the Scarlets squandered an early opportunity to go in front, before a subsequent chance to put pressure on the Stormers’ line also went to waste.

The Stormers – without their considerable Springbok touring contingent, which includes the likes of Steven Kitshoff, Evan Roos, Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse – punished those early errors when Jantjies stretched for the line under the posts in the 15th minute.

Wolhuter was left with a simple conversion and was on target again after a loose Scarlets line-out opened the door for the Stormers to launch a rapid counter-attack which was finished off by Zas.

The Stormers had their third try after 22 minutes when Van Rhyn powered his way between two defenders to touch down.

Dwayne Peel’s men saw another golden opportunity go begging before finally getting off the mark when McNicholl’s evasive run led to Conbeer going over.

McNicholl then produced a superb try-saving tackle to deny Cornel Smit at the other end, but Dayimani soon crossed for the bonus point and Wolhuter’s kick and a subsequent penalty made it 29-7 at half-time.

Du Plessis weaved his way under the posts shortly after the restart, Wolhuter converting, but Rogers’ try eight minutes later suggested there was still some fight left in the Scarlets, with Patchell successful from the tee and Conbeer quickly adding his second.

However, the Scarlets’ fightback fell well short as they slipped to their sixth defeat in eight matches.

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