SCARLETS HOLD ON FOR BLUES DOUBLE
By Helen ‘Helzbach’ Davies
Following the disappointment of both the defeat and the way in which the game was played against the Ospreys on Monday afternoon, the Scarlets aim to start off the New Year with a win against the Blues. In this fixture, last season, the Blues recoded an important win to seal their second Festive Derby win and hope to continue the trend this season. Having recorded a 15 point to 26 victory in the away fixture, the Scarlets aim to spoil the Blues’ party and record their own double of wins over the Capital City outfit in the Guinness Pro12.
Following a nervous start from both sides, a break from Full Back Aled Thomas finally saw the Scarlets on the attack. A silly penalty from Blues Captain Sam Warburton offered the home team the first opportunity for points on the board, but the strong wind resulted in Patchell opting to kick for the corner. The strength of the wind was evident as his kick sailed over the dead-ball line and play was back on half-way.
Despite both teams attempt at attack, the effectiveness of the defence of the opposing team ensured that play was limited to the mid area of the pitch until an obvious dummy move from former Blues player Rhys Patchell saw him slice through the midfield, culminating in Steffan Evans crossing in the corner for the first try of the afternoon. Patchell was unsuccessful with his touch-line conversion, but the Scarlets were able to open an early 5 point to 0 lead.
The game continued in the same manner for the majority of the first half until the Scarlets secured an easy penalty attempt right in front of the posts on the half hour mark. On this occasion Patchell made no mistake and extended the Scarlets lead to 8 points to 0. However, his opposite number, former Scarlet Steve Shingler added a penalty of his own in a similar position only the other end of the field to open the scoring for the Blues – 8 points to 3 as the half came to an end.
The Scarlets could have had a dream start to the second half as the home team found themselves on the Blues try line, but lost the ball forward as they worked through the phases in their attempt to cross the white wash.
The Scarlets were offered the opportunity to extend their lead, but Patchell could only watch as his kick sailed wide of the posts. The home team continued their attack as Steff Evans and the Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams partnership worked in tandem before Captain for the day Scott Williams crossed for his side’s second try. Patchell added the conversion to increase the Scarlets’ lead to 15 points to 3.
A couple of mis-tackles from the home team saw Blues Centre Halaholo Willis cross un-opposed for the Blues’ first try of the afternoon. Shingler added the conversion to narrow the Scarlets’ lead back to 5 points – 15 points to 10.
A typical derby match, the second half continued in a similar trend to that of the first, with the majority of play around the half-way area as neither team really dominated play.
Great work from the forwards in the scrum saw the Scarlets offered a penalty attempt late
on in the half. With Outside Half Patchell off the pitch, and replacement Dan Jones a late withdrawal, the kicking duties were left to Full Back Aled Thomas who was off target with his attempt. He tried to make up for a seconds later with a poor attempt at a drop goal, but with the minutes ticking away to the end of the match, at least the home team were playing rugby in the correct area of the pitch in an attempt to play down the clock to the final whistle.
Fortunately, and to the huge relief of the Scarlets’ faithful, the home team managed to cling on and grind out an important win – 15 points to 10.
Next Friday evening, the Scarlets welcome Ulster as the Pro12 action continues at Parc y Scarlets. Kickoff is at 7.35pm.
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