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.
Clayton comeback stuns Van Gerwen
PONTYBEREM darts ace Jonny Clayton pulled off one of the shocks of the Grand Slam of Darts as he came from three legs behind to beat world number one Michael Van Gerwen 5-4 on Sunday (Nov 11).
The 44 year old Welshman looked to be down and out with the score at 4-2 but he never gave up and went on to claim one of the biggest victories of his career.
Van Gerwen has won the last three Grand Slam tournaments and was firm favourite to pick up another win going into the second of their three game group.
Clayton threw first in the first to five legs match but it was the Dutchman who hit the first 180 before going on to break with a 94 checkout.
The world number 17 hit back though and after Van Gerwen missed the bull for a 128 checkout he took out 64 to level the game up.
However, Clayton could not back that up opening up with just 26 in the third leg before Van Gerwen hit 180 and 171 to leave just 16 which he checked out at the second attempt.
The Welshman had an excellent average of 115 at this stage but that was trumped by his opponent, averaging 122.
Van Gerwen then increased his lead with a 16-dart leg but Clayton seemed unfazed.
He hit his second 180 in the fifth leg and checked out on 80 to pull a leg back but a bounce out at the start of the next leg set him back again.
MVG hit another 180 and although he missed a 64 finish he took out double ten to make the score 4-2.
Clayton only opened the seventh leg with a ton followed by a 60 but Van Gerwen did take full advantage hitting a 140 before responding to Clayton’s 60 with a score of 58.
The Welshman then hit 168 to leave himself with just 16 and after Van Gerwen missed on 114 he closed the leg out to make it 4-3.
More low scores in the eighth leg from Clayton looked to put MVG in control but he then missed check outs of 76 and 16 to allow Clayton in to check out with 58 to level the game at 4-4.
Clayton had the throw in the final leg and hit 140 with his second throw before Van Gerwen hit just 97.
The Pontyberem-born Clayton then hit 137 to leave himself with 40 but MVG put the pressure on leaving himself with 74 if Clayton slipped up.
Clayton needed just two darts as he hit double top to secure a memorable comeback victory.
The Welshman said he was ‘Over the moon’ following the win and took to Twitter to thank those who had sent him messages adding: “Made up with that! Incredible to be part of a match like that and then to win it against a class act (Michael Van Gerwen) playing like that is absolutely brilliant.”
Clayton now plays the BDO’s Gary Robson in his last match of the group tomorrow (Nov 13) with qualification for the next round not yet secure.
Trallwm, Trostre and Bwlch through to round three
TRALLWM went through to the third round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 3) as they beat Pwll Athletic 5-2.
Kris Brown scored a hat trick for the Tigers while other goals came from Rhys Watson and Luke Nicholas.
Carmarthen Stars were knocked out of the Cup as they were beaten 3-1 by Giants Grave. Richard Barnes, Dean Evans and Ross Hudson all scored for the Neath Premier League leaders.
C K Swiss Valley were also knocked out beaten 3-1 at home by Sandfields.
Pontlliw earned their place in the third round with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Pontarddulais Town after their game had finished 1-1 after extra time.
Trostre Sports also eased through to the next round as they thrashed West End United 9-1.
Johnstown also earned their place in the next round of the tournament with a 6-2 win at home to Wern.
Bwlch Rangers came from behind twice to book their place in the third round of the West Wales Cup.
Opponents Penclawdd, who play in Division 1 of the Swansea League, took a two goal lead before Blwch pulled a goal back before half time.
In the second half the Rangers levelled matters only for Penclawdd to retake the lead at 3-2.
However, Bwlch showed their class to score twice more to see themselves into the next round.
Matthew Hughes scored twice for Bwlch while Mathew Williams and Jason Morris were also on target for the victors.
FC Carmarthen bowed out of the competition, beaten 3-1 by Loughor Rovers despite taking the lead in that game.
Seaside’s run in the competition also came to an end as they were beaten 7-3 by last year’s champions Goodwick United.
Dafen bow out to Maltsters
DAFEN Welfare bowed out of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Nov 3) as they were beaten 3-0 by Maltsters Sports.
The Swansea League Division 1 side have won five, lost five and drawn one of their 11 games so far this season and they came up against a Dafen side who have just two wins and three draws from their nine games.
Kyle Morgan, Sam Keefe and Chris Hughes all scored for the visitors while they also did well to keep a clean sheet.
Maltsters’ Gareth Morrell was named as the man of the match for his side following an excellent display.
Dafen will now turn their attentions back to the Premier League and on Saturday (Nov 10) they are away to Evans and Williams.
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