Scintillating Scarlets turn on the style with second-half try fest

Rob Lloyd News

Scarlets turned on the second-half style in a 46-5 European Challenge Cup hammering of Bayonne at Parc y Scarlets.

After leading 11-0 at half-time, the home side produced some scintillating rugby after the break to secure a bonus-point win and keep alive their ambitions of reaching the knockout stages of the competition.

With fly-half Angus O’Brien pulling the strings expertly and the young outside backs a constant threat, the Scarlets dazzled under the Saturday night lights.

They had been made to work hard for an 11-0 lead in a physical opening period.

But the Scarlets had too much pace and invention in the second 40, much to the delight of the home faithful

Both sides were greeted with monsoon-like conditions as they took to the field, but the Scarlets, with young flanker Jac Morgan to the fore, were up and running quickly, claiming the game’s first try on six minutes.

Spotting space in the backfield, skipper Steff Hughes put through a clever kick and it was wing Ryan Conbeer who showed great pace and brilliant footballing skills to hack on and touch down before the ball went dead.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny was wide with the touchline conversion, but the full-back, who finished with a 21-point personal haul, was handed a couple more opportunities as Bayonne fell foul of the referee as the half went on.

The Wales and Lions No. 15 extended the advantage with a couple of penalty successes, but the Scarlets needed some resolute defence to keep their line intact in a second quarter dominated by the visitors.

The Scarlets were clearly in determined mood to exert their control at the start of the second half and Steff Evans crossed four minutes after the restart, only to be denied by the officials.

However, the home crowd were soon able to celebrate a second try and it came via an old-fashioned route one forward rumble, finished off by hooker Ryan Elias.

That was the prompt for the Scarlets to cut loose with Uzair Cassiem and O’Brien setting up replacement Kieran Hardy for the first of his two tries.

Six minutes later, the Scarlets had their bonus point. 

O’Brien spotted a gap in the French defence, scythed through and showed a blistering turn of pace to make the whitewash.

With the bonus point in the bag, the Scarlets played with a real freedom.

Hardy raced in for his second following a sublime offload from Paul Asquith and burst from Corey Baldwin, then Halfpenny capitalised on a Bayonne handling error to claim try number six.

Bayonne had the final word through full-back Julien Tisseron, but it was little consolation.

The win means the Scarlets are just four points behind Pool 2 leaders Toulon, who they meet in round five at Parc y Scarlets in January.

Scarlets – tries: R. Conbeer, R. Elias, K. Hardy (2). A. O’Brien, L. Halfpenny. Cons: Halfpenny (5). Pens: Halfpenny (2).

Bayonne – try: J. Tisseron.