Scarlets returned to Guinness PRO14 action on Saturday taking on Ospreys in the first of three festive derbies.
After a disappointing defeat against Glasgow in the last round of the championship, and two defeats in the last rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup, the Scarlets needed the victory to rebuild and gather some momentum.
In what was a tight affair with the aerial tactics playing an important part, it was one try that separated the two teams with Ospreys managing to edge the victory , their first in the last two years.
Scarlets get first points on the board with a penalty from fullback Rhys Patchell. The penalty opportunity came as Scarlets’ scrum was dominant just shy of the opposition’s 22 line.
Ospreys hit back with a penalty as Sam Davies kicks from just inside the halfway line just minutes later.
We reach the ten-minute mark and Patchell adds another three points as Ospreys are penalised offside in their own territory. Scott Williams puts in a grubber kick to try and get his backline on the move but we’re brought back to the location of the offence.
Just like the first penalty Davies hits back with a three pointer of his own bringing the score back to a level pegging.
Patchell steps up for another penalty as Ospreys are once again penalised but this time the ball fails to make it through the posts. We get back in to Ospreys’ 22, we’re in possession of the ball and winger George North shoulder barges Gareth Davies off the ruck. Penalty. We kick to touch. Line out on their 22.
The Scarlets scrum shows its dominance once again winning a penalty and a kickable one at that. Patchell steps up and this time it’s over and the Scarlets go back in the lead.
Ospreys get down in to Scarlets territory and look dangerous deep in the 22. It’s short lived however as Scarlets win a turnover and get back downfield. Jake Ball receives treatment on his shoulder but he’s soon back in the game.
McNicholl with a break, he's on the run. Looks for support, finds Gareth Davies. Ball is lost in contact but we come back for a scrum inside their 22.
With just minutes of the first half remaining Ospreys are4 on the attack. Scott Williams with one of his trademark grubber kicks. Luke Morgan is poised. Gathers but can't quite keep hold of the ball. Scarlets line out in our 22.
With the clock showing 40 we kick to touch to bring the first half to a close leading three points.
Half time: Ospreys 6 Scarlets 9
Lewis Rawlins is on for Jake Ball for the second half here at the Liberty.
Sam Davies gets an early kick at goal but he’s not on song this time handing Scarlets a 22 drop out.
The first quarter is a tense affair as both teams hand possession back and forth. The Ospreys get the upper hand on 52 minutes as replacement Steff Evans fumbles gathering the ball deep in his own 22. The homeside come up quickly and are rewarded with a five metre scrum.
They’re fired up and look like they’re just minutes away from scoring. They have an overlap out wide but the last pass is forward. Scarlets regain possession and we kick downfield.
Ospreys come back with a chip through the defensive line and it’s a foot race between Tom Prydie and Luke Morgan. Morgan gets a hand to the ball but we head to TMO for confirmation that it’s a try. Try awarded and Davies adds the conversion putting the homeside in the lead for the first time this afternoon after nearly an hour of play.
The try has put fire in the bellies of both Ospreys players and supporters and they soon come back on the attack in our 22. Referee Ben Whitehouse plays advantage in their favour and Davies spots an opportunity to launch a drop goal. It’s over and they push further ahead as we head in to the final quarter.
We get back in to Ospreys territory but Aled Davies soon gets the homeside moving back in to our 22. Tipuric puts in a decent chip and chase, the ball rolls in to touch inside the 22.
Ten minutes remain in this derby clash. We make it down in to Ospreys’ 22 and we work the ball through the hands. A penalty comes our way and Jones kicks bringing us back within seven points.
We win a scrum penalty. Whitehouse plays advantage. Jones kicks to touch and we have a line out inside Ospreys’ 22.
A frantic closing phase sees us win a turnover in their 22 with eno9ugh time on the clock to get the try that will bring us level however opportunity is lost.
The stadium clocks show 80 minutes but there is time for a line out. Ospreys win possession and Sam Davies kicks the ball off the park to bring the game to a close.
A disappointing defeat at the Liberty Stadium but the Scarlets will relish the opportunity to get back on the field, in another derby, against Cardiff Blues next week.
Final score; Ospreys 19 Scarlets 12