December 14th, 2018

Ulster v Scarlets: Ulster must be clinical in Belfast!

By Angus Macartney

 

Round 4 of the Champions Cup has arrived and Ulster face familiar foes tonight at the Kingspan. They will take on the Scarlets in what is the reverse fixture of last week.

Ulster secured maximum points in a thrilling encounter last week. McFarland’s men put in one of their best performances of the season winning 25-24 against last year’s losing semi-finalists.

Ulster have qualification in their sights and have an extra incentive to perform this week for Rory Best. The Ulster stalwart is set to become Ulster’s most capped player in European competition.

 

What’s on the line?

 

For club players, it doesn’t get any bigger than European nights.

Scarlets have had a very poor campaign compared to the high standards they have set in recent years. Despite having suffered injuries to key men, no-one would have predicted the Welsh side would be without a win in their 3 pool matches.

This should set it up perfectly for Ulster. Realistically, Scarlets are only playing for pride tonight as their qualification hopes are all but over after their poor start.

That said, Scarlets have a team littered with talent and with the pressure off them they do represent a serious threat to Ulster should they not play their best.

Ulster are sitting second in the pool and a four try bonus point win tonight would put them in a strong position to qualify.

 

Key Battle: Will Addison v Jonathan Davies

 

I’ve been harping on about Will Addison all season and his form in recent weeks has justified the praise I’ve given him.

He had a magnificent game last week – a constant threat in attack, solid in defence, and a quality solo try led to him picking up the Man of the Match award.

Addison is third for defenders beaten in this year’s competition and Ulster will look to their new star for line breaks tonight.

Davies has starred for the Lions on the last two tours and he is widely regarded as one of the best centres in the world.

That said, the Welshman was outshone last week against Addison and will be keen to win the return battle in Belfast.

 

Top Tip: Ulster Win By 6-10 Points at 17/4

 

I expect an end to end tussle between these two sides. Both teams play with ambition and look to play attacking rugby. It should make for an entertaining game in conditions that are set to be windy.

Ulster have more to play for and have the added 16th man with passionate home support – this will make them extremely difficult to beat considering they have won 8 of their last 9 in European competition.

Scarlets are too proud a side not to keep this match competitive which is why I see value backing Ulster to win by 6-10 points.