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.
Under strength Raiders beaten
By Sian Golden at Stebonheath Park
IF anything showed up the farcical registration rules inflicted by the RFL, it was Keighley’s club record win on Saturday (Sept 15).
Ordinarily a 112-6 rout would be celebrated, but West Wales were only able to field 12 fit players and after frustrating red and yellow cards, were down to 10 by the end of the game.
There are Welsh players who would have turned out, and perhaps the RFL should allow clubs to register community lads, who have never played professionally, to make up the numbers?
New Raiders coach Kim Williams arrives this week and his presence is much needed. It’s been a long season in Llanelli and, as plenty of arguing showed during the game, it’s a camp which needs a boost and fast.
Raiders held out for three minutes before Andy Gabriel caught Benn Hardcastle’s kick to score in the corner. Hardcastle converted.
Cameron Leeming tore through the defence to ground the second try with another expert Hardcastle sideline kick.
A short kick-off led to the third as Dan Parker raced down the wing, the fourth came from a catch by Emmerson Whittell from a high kick by Hardcastle, who converted, before another short kick-off led to the fifth, this one scored by Ritchie Hawkyard and converted by Hardcastle.
Jose Kenga was next over, Leeming got his second, and James Feather scored a length of the field try. Three more Hardcastle goals made the score 46-0 on 25 minutes.
The biggest round of applause came on 33 minutes when Raiders finally broke their duck with an Alan Pope scramble to the line. Harrison Elliot converted.
There was still time for two more first half Cougars tries. Andy Gabriel was too fast for the Raiders defence, and Parker also raced over for his second. Hardcastle converted both. 58-6 at the interval.
Alfie Seeley scored the first try of the second half with Hardcastle converting, but that was before the game turned into more of a charade when Craig Lewis saw red for alleged backchat, this surely prompting Raiders’ chairman Andrew Thorne to tweet “As a chairman of a club of a club losing is hard to take but when you have 14 men on a pitch it’s an impossible task.”
Hawkyard scored in the corner four minutes later with Hardcastle converting, and former South Wales Scorpion Billy Gaylor was next. Hardcastle missed the kick but got the next try, which he improved, before Chris Cullimore scored under the sticks, Hardcastle’s goal making it 86-6.
It was good work by Seeley, who weaved his way through the defence for his second, Hardcastle’s conversion bouncing in off the posts, but the game was to finish on 12 v 10 as the referee, who was evidently finding it tough to control the game, showed Hardcastle and Dalton Desmond-Walker yellow after a lengthy fight.
Gabriel claimed his hat-trick with Gaylor slicing the ball low under the sticks. Seeley sealed his hat-trick to take Cougars to 100 with Leeming also claiming his third. Gaylor, who was closer with his second conversion attempt, got this one over.
A length of the field Hawkyard try in the final minute gave him a triple and Gaylor’s goal brought down the curtain on the farce that Oscar Wilde would have been proud of writing.
Draw made for Bowl second round
THE draw for the second round of the WRU National Bowl has been made with a number of exciting ties to look forward to.
New Dock Stars’ reward for knocking out League 3 West A opponents Llangwm is another home tie against fellow League 3 West A side Llanybydder.
Former WRU Bowl Champions Amman United were given a walkover in the first round and they will be at home in the second round having been drawn to play South Gower.
Haverfordwest, who beat Pantyffynnon 69-5 on Saturday (Sept 15) have been rewarded with another home tie against Llangadog who won 50-14 away to Pontyates in their first round game.
Aberaeron, who beat Milford Haven in the first round, face a local derby with Lampeter Town who had a walkover against Pembroke Dock Quins in the first round.
Neyland, who had also had a walkover in the first round, have been given a home tie against Carmarthenshire side Cefneithin.
The two sides met in the same stage of last season’s competition and it was Cefneithin who came out on top on that occasion winning 25-3.
Laugharne have been drawn away to Trimsaran while Betws have also been drawn away to Cwmgors.
All matches will be played on Saturday, October 6.
Selected WRU Bowl second round fixtures:
Amman Utd v South Gower
Cardigan v Nantgaredig
Cwmgors v Betws (Ammanford)
Haverfordwest v Llangadog
Lampeter Town v Aberaeron
New Dock Stars v Llanybydder
Neyland v Cefneithin
Trimsaran v Laugharne
Wanderers snatch late victory
LLANELLI Wanderers earned their second win of the season on Saturday (Sept 15) as they beat Dunvant 22-19 thanks to a late try.
The powerful Dunvant pack helped their side to a 16-12 lead at half time but the Wanderers were still very much in the game.
Josh Leeds and Jordan Evans scored the tries for Llanelli while Rhydian Morgan added the rest of their first half points with the boot.
Dunvant held on to their lead in the second half as they defended well whenever the Wanderers came forward.
However, with ten minutes to go the tables turned as the Wanderers cranked up the pressure even more.
Gruff Mathias, making his debut for the senior side having played in the youth team last season, went up for a Dunvant lineout and he knocked the ball down for Ryan Tovey who went on to score what would prove to be the winning try.
Morgan then added the extra two points and they were able to see the game out for an excellent win.
On Saturday (Sept 22), Llanelli Wanderers will look for another win when they take on Gorseinon away from home.
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