With thirteen changes to the team that beat Glasgow in Parc y Scarlets last week, it was the affectionately known ‘Tesco team’ that travelled to Murrayfield for this week’s Pro14 encounter against Edinburgh. A win would secure a home play-off for the Scarlets; however, one eye is obviously on the Champions’ Cup Semi Final next week.
The Scarlets are currently in second place in Conference B with Edinburgh hot on their heels in third. But whilst the Scarlets are juggling two competitions, Edinburgh saw their European dreams shattered at the hands of the Cardiff Blues. With two losses in their last two games, they will prove to be tough opponents for the exciting young Scarlets.
Edinburgh controversially were awarded the first try of the afternoon despite a clear forward pass from Centre, James Johnstone to Blair Kinghorn. It seemed that even the home team expected the try to have been disallowed as Scrum Half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne quickly attempted to drop kick the conversion before the referee had an opportunity to consult the TMO. He missed, but the try was awarded to give the hosts an early 5 points to 0 lead.
It took less than a minute for try number two to be scored. Again, there appeared to be a couple of forward passes on the way to the line as Duhan Van de Merwe evaded the tackle of Tom Varndell to score. Hidalgo-Clyde added the extras to give the Scots a 12 points to 0 advantage.
Solid work at the breakdown from the hosts saw Bradbury secure the turn-over before offloading to Hidalgo-Clyde who demonstrated his pace as he sped towards the try line to cross un-opposed for the third try and suddenly Edinburgh were on track for an important bonus point. Hidalgo-Clyde also managed to add the extras as the ball bounced over from the crossbar to extend Edinburgh’s lead to 19 points to 0.
It took just over 23 minutes for Edinburgh to secure a try bonus point. A break from Centre Chris Dean saw him off-load to Magnus Bradbury who touched down behind the posts, making the conversion an easy one for Hidalgo-Clyde to put Edinburgh ahead by 26 points to 0.
Just when it seemed that it was going to be a very long afternoon for the young Scarlets, their character shone through as Wing Tom Varndell squeezed over in the corner for his first try in Scarlets colours, his 175th try of his career. Dan Jones slotted over a superb conversion from the touchline to finally put the Scarlets on the score board – 26 points to 7.
Huge recycling work among the forwards saw the visitors inch closer to the try line before releasing Dan Jones who crossed for the second try of the Scarlets’ comeback attempt. He added the extras to double the Scarlets’ score to 26 points to 14 as the half drew to a close.
Despite a positive start to the second half for the Scarlets, Edinburgh managed to further extend their lead and get the crucial ‘first score’ as Van de Merwe raced over for his brace. Hidalgo-Clyde was again successful with the conversion attempt to add the extras – 33 points to 14.
Edinburgh seemed to have sealed their victory with the scoring of their sixth try following a break from Mark Bennett, with replacement Crosbie gathering the pass from du Preez to cross the whitewash. Hidalgo-Clyde again added the conversion to extend the hosts’ lead to 40 points to 14.
A good attacking position offered the Scarlets the opportunity to get something out of this fixture, however errors crept in and despite crossing the line, the ball was held up.
Play continued in the Edinburgh twenty-two before Duncan Weir pounced on the loose ball to break through before passing to Bennett who dived under the posts. Weir added the conversion to put the hosts ahead by 47 points to 14.
Unfortunately, Edinburgh weren’t finished with their try-scoring exploits as they went over the half century mark right on the final whistle as replacement Scrum Half Nathan Fowles burst through following a line-out to score the try to
Edinburgh securing the bonus point means that the Scarlets will now need the full five points against the Dragons in the Judgement Day fixture to secure a home play-off. Edinburgh are just a point behind the Scarlets now which could see them potentially leapfrog the Scarlets into second place which would mean the Scarlets travelling to play Munster, something that Wayne Pivac and co would almost certainly want to avoid.
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