Blade Injury Worry As Edinburgh Deny Scarlets

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Following a successful trip to South Africa where the Scarlets bagged a full five points, the squad were on their travels once more, but the temperatures were certainly colder up north in Scotland in comparison as the Scarlets faced Edinburgh in Murrayfield.
An ankle injury to Steff Hughes in training on Wednesday saw Will Boyde given the Captain’s role for the first time, however, the Scarlets were able to welcome back Keiron Fonotia following his suspension and Blade Thomson who will remain in Scotland and meet up with the Scotland camp for the Autumn Internationals.
Ryan Elias returned from the Welsh squad to take up his place at Hooker as Head Coach Wayne Pivac predicted a backlash from the Scottish following their defeat against Zebre last week.
“Last year we were punished and that’s fresh in the memory,” confirmed Pivac. “We want to go there and put in a much better performance, we both want to be in the play-offs again this year. There’s an 8-point buffer at the moment and we’ll certainly be trying to stretch that out.”
It was Edinburgh that threatened the try-line first, however Van de Merwe knocked the ball on over the line and was unable to ground the ball.
They were able to claim the first try though, following a drive off the line-out that resulted in Villame Mata powering over from close range. Simon Hickey added the conversion to give the hosts an early 7 points to 0 lead.
Dan Jones was offered the opportunity to get the Scarlets on the scoreboard, however he was just wide with his penalty attempt. More worrying for the visitors was the lengthy delay following an injury to Blade Thomson who appeared to suffer a knee to the head. Sadly, he was stretchered off after receiving oxygen on the pitch as it seemed he had lost consciousness and it appears likely that his much-anticipated International debut will now be delayed as he was taken to hospital for treatment for concussion.
A superb off-load from Keiron Fonotia released Morgan Williams who dived over in the corner for the Scarlets’ first try of the evening. Dan Jones added the extras with an excellent conversion attempt from the touchline to draw the game level at 7 points all.
However, Edinburgh took control once more with a sustained attack deep in the Scarlets’ 22 that resulted in Wing, Tom Brown crossing for the try. Hickey was unable to add the extras as Edinburgh took the lead once more, 12 points to 7.
The home team turned down a simple penalty attempt that would have seen them extend their lead to 8 points, however, they opted for the scrum instead. Tom Brown finished off the move for try number three, his brace, as the Scots justified their decision not to take the easy points as they led by 17 points to 7.
A break in mid-field from Johnny McNicholl offered some hope for the visitors, however he lost the ball in contact, and possession was handed back to Edinburgh once more.
The Scarlets were offered one final opportunity for points right on the stroke of half time, with Dan Jones kicking for the corner. A clever grubber kick from Jones was gathered by Paul Asquith who dived over to score the try. Jones also added the conversion to give Edinburgh the lead at half time by 17 points to 14.
It was a far more positive start to the second half for the Scarlets as they enjoyed the majority of the possession. Edinburgh were reduced to 14 men after Hickey was shown a yellow card for a professional foul after his tackle on Sam Hidalgo-Clyne. The home side were fortunate that the penalty try wasn’t awarded, however, great footwork from Johnny McNicholl saw the Full Back dance his way over before dotting down under the posts. Jones added the simple conversion to put the Scarlets ahead for the first time – 17 points to 21.
Edinburgh were soon back in the lead however, as they worked through the phases before Pierre Schoeman drove over from close range to give the Scots a try bonus point. With Hickey still in the sin bin, Socino added the simple conversion to put the home team back in the lead by 24 points to 21.
Edinburgh were offered the opportunity to deny the Scarlets of their losing bonus point as they turned down another easy three-pointer and instead kicked for the corner, opting for the drive off the line-out. A yellow card for replacement, Simon Gardiner added to the Scarlets woes as again the forwards launched an attack on the Scarlets’ try line, with the decision left in the hands of the TMO.
Despite the heroics of Dan Jones, Mata was just able to ground the ball to claim his second try and also the man of the match award. Hickey added the conversion as the home team extended their lead to 31 points to 21, with just a couple of minutes remaining.
Unfortunately, despite fighting back to take the lead with 20 minutes remaining, the Scarlets left the Scottish capital empty handed. Whilst they remain in second place in the Conference, the gap between them and Edinburgh is just three points.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach, Wayne Pivac confirmed that the basic skills had let the team down in the first half. “Overall, we’re not very happy,” he added, “It was a very hard watch with the mistakes we made in the first half, we were our own worst enemy.”

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