For the tenth time in Europe, the Scarlets faced Leicester Tigers, and with just 2 of those resulting in victory, despite there being nothing to play for as neither team can progress to the knock-out stages, there was still pride at stake.
With Jonathan Davies being rested, Keiron Fonotia returned from injury for the clash along with Gareth Davies at Scrum Half who didn’t play last week. Steff Evans also returned to the starting line-up , whilst Ken Owens was again forced to play at number 8 due to injury and player registration.
Also making a return to the match day 23 was Josh Macleod who took his place on the bench even though Wayne Pivac admitted mid- week that ideally, they would have liked to have given him another couple of weeks to recover fully from his injury rather than risk aggravating it further.
Leicester were offered an early attacking opportunity after the Scarlets were pinged for losing the ball forward. Opting for the scrum, the visitors obviously had every confidence that they would win the battle upfront, however they were totally destroyed by the Scarlets forwards and the hosts were back on the attack.
Despite the continual attack, moving the ball well and crossing the gain line with ease, the Scarlets were unable to gain any points from their time in the Leicester half.
Following a penalty award, the Scarlets kicked for the corner with the forwards taking on the responsibility as they drove towards the try line. Despite enduring wave after wave of attack, the Tigers’ defence held firm before they Scarlets finally drove over the whitewash with Rob Evans claiming the try, even though it appeared that Gareth Davies had got there first but play continued. Unfortunately, Dan Jones was unable to add the extras as the home team took the lead for the first time by 5 points to 0.
A further penalty saw the ball carried through the forwards once more, with Ryan Elias and Samson Lee among those that gained the yards before Gareth Davies put Ken Owens into a gap and the Captain crashed his way over the try line from 10 metres out for an outstanding try. Dan Jones added the simple conversion to give the Scarlets the lead by 12 points to 0.
Finally, there were glimpses of what the Scarlets are capable of as again Elias was instrumental before Johnny McNicholl found Ken Owens, in another of his favoured positions…on the Wing! Sadly, he was unable to get his pass away to Fonotia for a guaranteed try.
The hosts were offered a second bite of the cherry with Steff Evans putting up a grubber kick for Paul Asquith to chase, but unfortunately, he was just unable to gather the ball and the half ended with the Scarlets in the lead by 12 points to 0.
The second half began very much in the same vein with a confident Scarlets very much on top in all aspects of play. The Tigers were penalised for off-side and Dan Jones again opted to kick for the corner. The driving maul off the line-out powered towards the Tigers try line with Rob Evans diving over from close range to score his brace. Dan Jones added the extras with a superb kick from the touchline to give the hosts a commanding 19 points to 0 lead.
Another penalty against Leicester for being off-side again offered the Scarlets the opportunity to attack. Hadleigh Parkes and Asquith combined before Fonotia found a gaping hole in the Tigers defence before releasing McNicholl who dived over for the try.
Again Jones added the extras as the Scarlets extended their lead to 26 points to 0.
Parc y Scarlets rose to its feet as Rob Evans left the pitch to be replaced by Wyn Jones. Again the Scarlets forwards drove towards the Leicester try line, but a dangerous tackle on Ed Kennedy saw Mike Williams sent to the sin bin.
With the man advantage, Hadleigh Parkes put some width on the ball, finding Steff Evans who side-stepped Wales International Jonah Holmes to cross for the try, despite the efforts of the Tigers forwards. The TMO confirmed the awarding of the try and again Jones added a superbly struck conversion that put the Scarlets ahead by 33 points to 0.
Disappointingly, the Tigers were finally able to get over the try line following a break from Olowofela who off-loaded to Will Evans who crossed in the corner. The missed conversion brought the score-line to 33 points to 5.
The visitors again found themselves in a good attacking position but a superb cover tackle from replacement, Ioan Nicholas denied the Tigers.
They were awarded a second consolation try, finished off by replacement Mike Fitzgerald. Joe Ford’s attempt at the conversion hit the upright as the visitors narrowed the gap slightly to 33 points to 10.
Despite this late come back, the Scarlets ended the game deep in the Tigers’ 22 as they held on for the bonus point win. However, it was not just the win, it was the performance. Two weeks ago, the Scarlets were booed as they left the pitch against the Cardiff Blues, but on this performance, it appears that things are finally beginning to work on the pitch for the Scarlets.