Scarlets Denied Losing Bonus Against Fourteen Man Glasgow

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Following a good performance against Ulster last weekend that secured a full five points, the Scarlets were back on the road this week as they travelled to face a Glasgow team that currently sits at the top of Conference A.
There was good news on the injury front for once with the news from Head Coach, Wayne Pivac that James ‘Cubby Boi’ Davies is ‘flying’ in his rehabilitation and is ahead of target to make his return. Both Davies and Prop, Samson Lee, who was released from the Welsh Camp with a hamstring injury will return to the main training squad next week. Both are hopeful of playing some part in the next block of back to back Champions Cup fixtures.
Phil Price unfortunately picked up a knock in the last fixture and was unavailable for selection as was Steff Hughes who is still recovering from an injury he sustained against the Kings.
There was, however, good news for other long-term absentees with Jonathan Evans progressing well and Aaron Shingler finally back running and looking at a return to action in the new year.
Despite Internationals Ken Owens, Hadleigh Parkes, Lee Halfpenny and Gareth Davies being given an extra week off following the Autumn Internationals, the Scarlets still managed to name a strong XV for the trip to Scotland, an indication of the strength in depth that has been built by Pivac and co.
Captained by Jonathan Davies, the Scarlets welcomed Rhys Patchell, Steff Evans, Jake Ball, Rob Evans and Ryan Elias back after their International duties. Scrum Half Kieran Hardy retained the Scrum Half spot with Uzair Cassiem offered the opportunity to build on his solid performance from last week at number 8.
Looking ahead to the challenge, Pivac said; “Glasgow have a really impressive record at home. They play an expansive game.” He added, “It all stacks up for an entertaining game, we’ve got a healthy respect for them and they’re flying in their conference. We’ve got a massive challenge ahead of us.”
It was all change for the home team, however, with nine changes from the team that faced the Blues last weekend. They showed their intent early on by opting to kick for the corner from an early penalty, however an interception from Jonathan Davies offered Steff Evans the opportunity to demonstrate his speed, but despite losing the footrace, he was able to secure a good attacking scrum for the visitors.
Rhys Patchell scored the first points of the game with a simple penalty attempt in front of the posts after Glasgow were pinged for collapsing the scrum to give the Scarlets an early 0 points to 3 lead.
The home team were offered the chance to hit back straight away after the Scarlets were penalised for holding on, however a superb defensive effort from the Scarlets forwards saw the Scots bundled into touch.
They were able to draw level minutes later as the Scarlets ill-discipline continued. Brandon Thomson was on target with his easy penalty attempt to give a score-line of 3 points all.
Worryingly for the Scarlets, Jake Ball, who joined the squad late following the birth of his third child a baby boy, left the field early for a HIA and initially it appeared that no further action was to be taken despite Ball’s injury being the result of a no arms tackle where it seems he was caught in the face by Prop Alex Allan’s shoulder/elbow.
Fortunately, the intervention of the TMO proved pivotal and Allan was shown a red card. This obviously fired up both the home team and their supporters as uncharacteristically, Patchell was unable to find touch from the subsequent penalty and somehow a seven-man Glasgow scrum managed to secure a penalty against the Scarlets. Thomson slotted over the penalty to put the Scots ahead for the first time by 6 points to 3.
As the penalty count from the visitors increased, referee, Frank Murphy offered a final warning as Thomson teed up for a third penalty attempt. On this occasion he pulled his kick to the left.
Ball’s replacement, Lewis Rawlins was penalised at the breakdown and due to the high number of offences, was shown the yellow card meaning that the teams were both a man down for a period.
The determination that the home side had shown since Allan’s sending off was finally rewarded as Thomson dummied before somehow stretching to ground the ball over the try line. He added the extras of his own try to further increase Glasgow’s lead to 13 points to 3.
As the first half reached it’s end the visitors were offered a last chance to narrow Glasgow’s lead as Patchell’s kick to the corner offered the Scarlets a good attacking position with Uzair Cassiem inches short of scoring the try.
Unfortunately, Glasgow managed to turn the ball over, offering Matawalu the opportunity to set up a counter attack as he raced down the touchline, but fortunately, speedster Steff Evans was there to gather the loose ball, but was bundled into touch. Suddenly it was Glasgow who were on the hunt for a late score, however the Scarlets secured a scrum and you could almost sense the relief when Hardy kicked into touch to bring the half to an end with Glasgow leading by 13 points to 3.
The nightmare continued for the Scarlets into the second half as the home team secured turnover ball with Centre, Nick Grigg racing over for the try. Thomson added the extras to give the Warriors a commanding 20 points to 3 advantage.
And it appeared that they were soon to have a third as the Scarlets defence seemed almost non-existent as Robbie Nairn finished off a move to cross the whitewash. Fortunately, the TMO detected a forward pass in the build-up and the try was disallowed.
When the Scarlets finally managed to get their hands on the ball, they were able to demonstrate what they can do with Steff Evans gathering and off-loading to Jonathan Davies who broke through the tackles to cross for the Scarlets’ first try of the evening to a chorus of boos from the hostile Scotstoun crowd. Patchell was wide with his conversion attempt as Glasgow’s lead was narrowed slightly to 20 points to 8.
However a further penalty from the boot of Thomson again put the home team three scores ahead by 23 points to 8 as Boyde was penalised for a no-arms tackle. They were awarded a further penalty minutes later as the frustrations of the Scarlets became more and more evident.
Thomson extended the home side’s advantage to 26 points to 8 as the Scarlets gave away yet another penalty as it appeared that referee Murphy only had one working arm.
The Scarlets’ Scotstoun nightmare continued as replacement, Tom Phillips was shown a yellow card for a high tackle as the home team inched closer to the try line, however, totally against the run of play, Jonathan Davies intercepted the ball from his own try line, sprinted downfield in a superb try that was finished off by Steff Evans diving over in the corner. Patchell was again wide with the conversion as the Scarlets were offered a slight life-line as they narrowed Glasgow’s lead to 26 points to 13 with 10 minutes remaining.
A spectacular break from Rhys Patchell in midfield saw the Outside Half find a gap in the Glasgow defence. He off-loaded to Paul Asquith who found Clayton Blommetjies who crossed for the try. Patchell’s successful conversion brought the Scarlets back to within six points… 26 points to 20.
However, the Scarlets’ attempts to snatch victory away from the hosts were denied when Patchell was penalised for holding on. This offered Thomson another chance at the posts. His successful kick put Glasgow ahead by 29 points to 20 and denied the Scarlets a losing bonus point.
Next week the Pro14 takes a break as the Scarlets face Ulster back to back in the continuation of the Champions Cup. Both these are games are must win if the Scarlets have any hope of progressing further in the competition.

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