And so we reach the final weeks of the rugby season and the last guaranteed home fixture for the Scarlets. Currently in second position in the League, a win against Conference A leaders, Glasgow, would almost certainly cement a home Play-off.
As ever, this occasion is tinged with sadness as we bid a fond farewell to players leaving for pastures new. However, this season seems somewhat sadder than usual, with Scott Williams and Aled Davies leaving for the Ospreys, Tadhg Beirne on his way back over the Irish Sea to Munster and Scotland Captain, John Barclay heading to Edinburgh.
It was a strong start for the hosts as they put pressure on Glasgow, however, it was the visitors that were offered the first opportunity to put points on the board. Unusually, Scotland International Finn Russell was wide with his attempt. He was offered a second bite of the cherry with a simple kick from right in front of the posts minutes later, but somehow managed to hit the posts!
Strong scrummaging from the Scarlets pack secured a penalty, but despite securing an attacking line-out in the Glasgow half, a handling error saw the attack come to nothing.
Another penalty at the scrum saw the home team again gain an attacking line-out and a further penalty for a high tackle saw Leigh Halfpenny finally call for his kicking tee with over 25 minutes on the clock.
Unbelievably, he also managed to hit the posts with his attempt at a kick he would normally have slotted over blind folded! Fortunately, Hadleigh Parkes was on hand to chase the kick before Rhys Patchell managed to find a gap to cross for the first try and score of the match.
The kicking woes continued as Halfpenny missed a relatively simple conversion attempt as the Scarlets finally took the lead by 5 points to 0.
With the scrum proving to be a real weapon for the Scarlets, they secured another penalty and a further penalty for a high tackle finally saw Halfpenny land a kick to extend the Scarlets’ lead to 8 points to 0.
An attacking line-out for Glasgow deep in the Scarlets’ 22 offered the visitors the chance to end the half with some points on the board. Despite the Scarlets’ defensive efforts, Glasgow secured a penalty and bizarrely, rather than opting to take a certain three points, the visitors opted for the scrum.
The reaction from the Scarlets players after securing yet another penalty at the scrum demonstrated just how much the decision meant to them as they managed to end the half without conceding any points – 8 points to 0.
It was Glasgow that got the first points of the second half as the Scarlets were penalised for off-side. Replacement, Peter Horne made no mistake with his simple kick to narrow the Scarlets’ lead to 8 points to 3.
A huge effort from the Scarlets’ pack in the scrum offered Halfpenny the opportunity to restore the host’s 8 point lead with a simple effort from right in front of the posts – 11 points to 3.
The Scarlets’ second try was very much a solo effort for Scrum Half, Gareth Davies who intercepted and darted down the touch line to cross the whitewash. Again Halfpenny was unsuccessful with the conversion as the Scarlets extended their lead to 16 points to 3.
A further penalty from Halfpenny extended the Scarlets’ lead once more to 19 points to 3 before Glasgow finally managed to find a gap in the Scarlets’ defensive wall. An off-load to replacement Scrum Half, Henry Pyrgos, saw him dive over for the Scot’s first try of the afternoon. The curse of the kicker struck again though, as Horne was unable to add the extras as the Scarlets remained in the lead by 19 points to 8.
Parc y Scarlets rose to it’s feet as an emotional Scott Williams left the pitch, possibly for the last time. This was repeated minutes later as Tadhg Beirne left to rapturous applause.
With just 2 minutes remaining on the clock, a superb finish from Rhys Patchell saw the Outside Half gratefully accept the pass from James Davies to cross for his brace. Leigh Halfpenny added the extras to give a final score of 26 points to 8.
Next week, the Scarlets travel to Edinburgh as they aim to continue in winnings ways and secure a home play-off in the quest to create another piece of Scarlets history.
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