SCARLETS had to withstand late pressure from Guinness Pro14 Champions Leinster on Saturday (Sept 8), as they earned their first win of the season at Parc Y Scarlets.
The men in Red were boosted by the returns of a number of injured internationals for the mammoth clash including Leigh Halfpenny, Jake Ball, Hadleigh Parkes and Samson Lee.
Tries from captain Ken Owens and Gareth Davies as well as conversions and three Leigh Halfpenny penalties was enough to secure an all-important second round victory for the Scarlets.
Scarlets put the pressure on Leinster’s line early on with flanker Josh Murphy shown a yellow card after only six minutes of play. Despite the man advantage they were unable to put points on the board.
Scarlets retained possession and built through the phases again before Hadleigh Parkes made a sweet break into Leinster’s 22 before passing the ball back inside to Gareth Davies who crosses the whitewash. He touched down but the TMO was called for confirmation and unfortunately it was deemed that the ball had been knocked on.
It wasn’t long before Scarlets were back on the attack and they had a scrum inside Leinster’s 22 which was picked out and Captain Ken Owens claimed the try with Halfpenny adding the extras.
Ioan Nicholas then replaced Johnny McNicholl who went down in the earlier encounter as the try was scored.
Minutes later Scarlets were penalised in their own half for an infringement at the line out. Leinster’s Ross Byrne is offered a penalty opportunity but his kick was wide of the mark keeping Scarlets seven points ahead.
Leinster then brought themselves back into the game as winger Fergus McFadden crossed in the far corner for Leinster’s first try of the evening with Byrne adding the conversion.
With five minutes of the first half left, Halfpenny put the Scarlets ahead with a penalty.
Leinster finished the half the stronger and thought they had scored but Samson Lee was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul on review by the TMO.
They pushed forward and from a scrum Leinster were able to take advantage of the extra space to find James Lowe who crossed in the corner before Byrne added the extras.
That gave the Irish side a 14-10 lead at the break but despite still being a man down, it was the Scarlets who got the first score of the second half. Leinster were penalised for a knock on and Halfpenny added the conversion.
Leinster looked to respond and were given a chance to increase their lead with a penalty but Byrne missed and the score stayed the same.
Scarlets pushed forward on the hour mark and won a penalty and Jones sent the ball into touch. The home side came close to going over but were kept out until a penalty gave Halfpenny the chance to put them back into the lead. He made no mistake and the Scarlets were ahead.
The home side then had to defend well as Leinster came forward but they kept them out and won the ball back after an error.
Scarlets continued to push forward and Hadleigh Parkes burst through a gap and made an excellent offload to Gareth Davies who touched down under the posts giving Halfpenny an easy conversion.
Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock reduced the gap with six minutes to go and Byrne then added the extras to set up an exciting end with the score at 23-21.
The visitors looked for a way through but Scarlets defended well once more and also kept their discipline, not giving anything away.
Scarlets held on for an excellent win giving them a good confidence boost going into their next fixture at home against Bennetton on Saturday (Sept 15), kick off 5:15pm.
Wanderers edged out by Gowerton
LLANELLI Wanderers came close to victory against Gowerton on Saturday (Feb 16) but were unable to find a winning score as they were beaten 14-18.
Gowerton had taken the lead early on with a penalty and an unconverted try gave them an 8-0 lead at half time.
The Wanderers hit back in the second half with Sianco Morgan going over for the try and the conversion from Lewis Jones brought them to within a point of their opponents.
They then took the lead as Lloyd Thomas went over and Jones again added the extras to make it 14-8.
Gowerton hit back with a converted try of their own and they were back in the lead by a single point.
They then scored a penalty to make it 14-18 with six minutes to play. Try as they might the Wanderers could not find a way through and they had to settle for a losing bonus point.
The Wanderers are next in action on Saturday, March 2, when they travel to Crymych.
Nant hold off Trimsaran
NANTGAREDIG remain unbeaten in League 3 West B after they sealed a narrow 17-18 win away to promotion rivals Trimsaran on Saturday (Feb 16).
The visitors took the lead with an early penalty scored but Trimsaran responded well with a try to take the lead but the conversion was missed and the home side led 5-3.
Nant hit back and got their first try of the game thanks to and the extras were added for a 3-10 lead.
They then extended their lead to 5-15 with an unconverted try and with half time looming, the lead was extended further with another penalty.
Lloyd Williams kicked one conversion and two penalties. Ben Nichols scored a try and Rhydian Evans scored the other.
With the score 18-5 at the break Trimsaran knew they would need to play well in the second half and they very nearly pulled off an excellent comeback.
Trimsaran scored two good tries with the latter try bringing the score to 17-18 setting up a nervy finish for both sides.
However, it was Nantgaredig who showed why they have not lost a game this season as they held on for the win.
They have now won 24 games on the bounce and look favourites for the title and promotion this season.
On Friday (Feb 22), Trimsaran are at home as they take on Penybanc with the game kicking off at 7:15pm.
Nantgaredig are next in action on Saturday, March 2, when they host CR Cymry Caerdydd in the quarter final of the WRU Bowl.
Kidwelly come from behind to win thriller
WITH both sides residing in a similar league position in Division 1 and a spot in the Senior Cup Quarter finals up for grabs, all was set for a close encounter between Kidwelly and Felinfoel on Saturday (Feb 16).
Felinfoel had home advantage and, having already beaten their opponents 3-1 earlier in the season, they were favourites to advance to the next round, but nothing is ever that simple in football.
During the first fifteen minutes Felinfoel dominated possession with much of the play happening in and around the Kidwelly box.
Felinfoel took the lead with twenty minutes gone when a dangerous cross was delivered towards the back post which resulted in a well-taken goal.
After the restart Kidwelly showed signs of resurgence with brothers Connor and Jordan Howells linking up well in midfield and creating problems for Felinfoel.
The fightback, however, was short lived as Felinfoel sent a wide free kick into the box and the ball was headed into the back of the net.
There was not much Kidwelly could have done about either goal as the deliveries for each were superb.
With five minutes left of the first half and Kidwelly not threatening much, they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Winger Rob Hammond sent a superb high ball into the box and Kyle Griffiths, former centre-back turned midfielder, flicked the ball over the keeper and into the net to give Kidwelly a glimmer of hope.
The half time whistle went and even though Felinfoel had the better of the half Kidwelly had shown good resilience and were pleased to be only 2-1 down at the break.
The second half started with both sides playing at a high tempo with Kidwelly in a confident mood having scored before the break and having come from behind to win in other games this season.
As the game continued both teams were battling hard with some big tackle flying in. Kidwelly had far more possession in the second half and created numerous good chances.
Kidwelly were playing some good stuff but it wasn’t until the hour mark when Rob Hammond, Kidwelly’s top goal scorer, latched on to a huge goal kick and delivered a clinical finish to make it 2-2.
Not long after that, Hammond again latched on to a forward pass and with a bit of creativity managed to turn the defender and find the bottom corner with a quality finish to put his side into the lead.
Felinfoel looked to get back in the game and Kidwelly manager Gareth Evans introduced fresh legs replacing hardworking Liam Jones with club captain Luc Fitzpatrick who was returning from injury.
This was an attempt to keep Felinfoel at bay but they threw everything they could at the makeshift Kidwelly keeper Danny Coleman, normally a number ten. However, Coleman made some tremendous saves and put his body on the line on numerous occasions.
Kidwelly survived three goal-mouth scrambles and on one occasion had ten players behind the ball trying to keep it out.
Unfortunately for Kidwelly, during one of those scrambles, veteran Chris Cray volleyed his goal keepers arm meaning Coleman would have to go off injured. He was replaced by striker Aled Giley with Daniel Griffiths, who was having an excellent game, having to go between the sticks for the rest of the game.
Both sides battled until the end with more strong tackles flying in but Kidwelly full backs Tom Hughes and Daniel Fitzpatrick had faced quality opposition wingers and came out on top.
Felinfoel played their part in an excellent cup game but Kidwelly, who have recently won five games on the bounce in Division 1, showed great resilience and team spirit to earn a thrilling win.
On Saturday (Feb 23), Kidwelly are at home as they play Pontlliw in the quarter final of the same competition, kick off 1:45pm.
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