Scarlets Secure Important Dragons Win

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With the results the last couple of weeks not going in the Scarlets’ favour, the rejuvenated Dragons posed a real threat to the Scarlets following their festive derbies, culminating in a win against the Ospreys last week.
Despite not having beaten the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets, with their last League victory on 1st September 2007 at Stradey Park, Wayne Pivac admitted this week that on current form, the Dragons start this game as favourites.
With everything still to play for, the home team were once again ravaged by injuries. Leigh Halfpenny is set to see a specialist next week as he continues with his recovery from concussion. James Davies is also side-lined with a foot injury, Will Boyde with a rib injury, Uzair Cassiem has a broken shoulder blade, Josh Macleod has foot injury and Blade Thomson is still recovering from his concussion, forcing the shock selection of Hooker and captain, Ken Owens at number 8.
The team was led out by Hooker, Ryan Elias, starting on his 100th game for the region and it was evident from the beginning how much the players wanted and needed a victory. The pressure from the Scarlets’ forwards at the scrum resulted in an early opportunity for the hosts to take the lead. Dan Jones slotted over a simple effort to give the Scarlets the lead by 3 points to 0.
The Dragons were offered the opportunity to draw level as the Scarlets were penalised for binding too early, however Outside Half Josh Lewis was unlucky to be off target with his well-struck effort.
A further scrum, and a further penalty offered the Scarlets the chance to double their score, when referee, Craig Evans finally blew his whistle and brought play back. Dan Jones added his second to extend the Scarlets’ lead to 6 points to 0.
As the scrum fest continued, the home side secured a further penalty and opted to kick for touch rather than attempt a tricky penalty kick, however yet another scrum and yet another restart or two and bizarrely the Dragons secured a penalty, despite it appearing obvious that Dan Suter had broken his bind and not Samson Lee.
Despite this, the home side were able to secure a turnover at the break down and the Scarlets attack continued. An over-throw at the line-out saw the hosts inch deeper into the Dragons’ 22, however losing the ball forward resulted in a replay of the familiar scrum – reset – scrum that had been the story of the half thus far.
A penalty for a dangerous tackle on Dan Jones saw the Scarlets launch another attack, however it was the Dragons that were then offered the opportunity to get points on the board. Despite the distance, Josh Lewis’ successful kick drew the Dragons back to within 3 points, 6 points to 3.
Great defensive play from Jonathan Davies put the hosts into a great attacking position just outside the Dragons’ 22 as the first half neared its end and it appeared that Rob Evans had driven over from close range.
Unfortunately, despite it seeming that the try was good, the grounding wasn’t apparent, and the Scarlets had to settle for the penalty. Dan Jones added his third successive penalty to increase the Scarlets’ lead to 9 points to 3.
With the half drawing to a close, a further penalty at the scrum resulted in Dan Suter being shown a yellow card. Right on the stroke of half time, Dan Jones added a fourth penalty to give the hosts a half time lead of 12 points to 3.
Despite being down a man to 14 men, the Dragons secured the first points of the second half with a second penalty from Josh Lewis to cut the Scarlets’ lead to 6 points – 12 points to 6.
Another penalty and the Scarlets opted to kick for the corner, working through the phases as they inched ever closer to the try line. A further penalty and again the hosts opted to kick for the corner, however losing the line-out was obviously not part of the plan.
The Parc y Scarlets faithful finally had something to cheer about following a break from Paul Asquith which resulted in Ioan Nicholas strolling over in the corner. Dan Jones was wide with the tricky conversion as the Scarlets increased their lead to 17 points to 6.
As has almost become the norm in this fixture, the Scarlets secured a penalty at the scrum on the half way line. Opting to kick for the corner once more, they drove off the line-out with the forwards combining well to inch closer to the Dragons try line, despite the visitors appearing to stray off-side.
Yet again, errors crept into the Scarlets’ game at a crucial time as they spilled the ball forward right on the Dragons’ try line offering the visitors the chance to clear their lines.
A huge effort from the forwards saw the pack drive towards the Dragons’ line from the line-out, and despite Ken Owens carrying the ball well, he was stopped inches short.
Try number two finally came following a scrum v with replacement Scrum Half, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne crossing. The TMO confirmed the try, however, unfortunately, Dan Jones was unable to add the conversion as the hosts extended their lead to 22 points to 6.
Despite breaks from Johnny McNicholl and Dan Davis, the Scarlets were unable to extend their lead in the dying minutes, however, the Dragons managed to sneak in a consolation try right at the end, scored by James Benjamin. Jason Tovey added the conversion to give a final score of 22 points to 13.
It wasn’t a classic, there were plenty of errors, but importantly, the Scarlets had finally put an end to the current run of losses and remain unbeaten in 2019!!!

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