It was exactly a year ago today that the Scarlets notched up a victory in the Arms Park to record the first leg of their double over the Capital City Region. The result proved a turning point in the Scarlets’ season, and whilst it is hoped that the result will be similar, the standard of refereeing that evening was poor, culminating in the wrong Shingler brother being shown the yellow card.
Following two defeats against strong opposition in the Champions’ Cup, a win will further cement the Scarlets’ spot at the top of Conference B before facing a tough couple of weeks including the mini tour to South Africa with the majority of the squad on International duty.
It took less than a minute for rookie South African referee Stuart Berry to penalise the Blues for not releasing to offer Leigh Halfpenny his first attempt at goal. His kick gave the home team an early 3 point to 0 lead.
Minutes later, despite the option to kick for goal and draw the game level the Blues showed their intent initially by kicking for the corner before slotting over an easy subsequent penalty through Outside Half Jarrod Evans to bring the scores level at 3 points all.
However, the Scarlets wasted no time in counter attacking with new Welsh squad member Hadleigh Parkes finding a gap in midfield to cross the whitewash for the first try of the evening. Halfpenny was off-target with the tricky conversion as the Scarlets took the lead once more – 8 points to 3.
Despite some good attacking phases from the Blues, the Scarlets defence held firm before a kick through from Johnny McNicholl put the Scarlets back in the Blues half.
A second successful penalty from Halfpenny edged the Scarlets further ahead by 11 points to 8.
The Blues were reduced to 14 men following a dangerous tackle on Tadhg Beirne by Blues Number 8, Nick Williams, giving the home team a man advantage with the Scarlets on the attack in the Blues half.
Destroying the Blue scrum set up the attack as the home team built up the phases before Steff Evans lost the ball forward offering the Blues the chance to counter.
Defence Coach, Byron Hayward would certainly have been pleased with the defensive efforts of the men in red as they thwarted any Blues threat, ensuring they went backwards in attack before securing a penalty to put them back in the Blues’ 22.
Captain Scott Williams was unlucky not to have scored the second try of the evening as the TMO deemed that the ball had been lost forward despite it appearing to be lost backwards.
On the second attempt the forwards took control, driving through the Cardiff Blues’ defence with ease before Ryan Elias dived over in the corner for the try. Halfpenny added the extras from the touch line to give the home team an 18 point to 3 lead.
Again, the Blues opted to kick for the corner rather than securing an easy 3 points to narrow the deficit, but superb defence from the Scarlets denied them the try as Willis Halaholo lost the ball over the line.
With half time approaching, it was the Scarlets that were back on the attack. but they were unable to stretch their 18 points to 3 lead before heading back through the tunnel.
It was the Blues that got the first points of the second half on the board as Willis Halaholo’s side step finds space in the Scarlets’ defence to cross unopposed under the posts. Replacement, Steve Shingler added the easy conversion to bring the Blues back within 8 points – 18 points to 10.
As the game edged towards the hour mark the TMO confirmed that Lloyd Williams had squeezed over for the Blues’ second try. Steve Shingler again added the extras and suddenly the home team’s comfortable lead was reduced to just a point – 18 points to 17.
However, the Scarlets hit back immediately with replacement Scrum Half, Jonathan Evans crossing for his team’s third try of the evening. Rhys Patchell missed the conversion as the men in red extended their lead to 23 points to 17.
A penalty in the Blues’ 22 offered the Scarlets the opportunity to score the all-important fourth try to secure a bonus point. Opting to kick for the corner, they did just that as Steff Evans ran a good angle to find a gap in the Blues’ defence to squeeze over for the try. Rhys Patchell added the extras to once again give the Scarlets a convincing lead – 30 points to 17 as the game entered its final minutes.
Despite a late attack from the Blues, the Scarlets held on to win their second derby of the season…final score –
Scarlets 30 – Blues 17
Next week the Pro14 continues with the visit of Treviso to Parc y Scarlets on Friday, November 3rd, kick-off is at 7.35pm
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