It’s a return to the scene of that emphatic fourteen-man victory in the Guinness PRO14 semi final for the Scarlets as we prepare to take on Leinster in Round 15 of the Guinness PRO14.
After the disappointment of coming away empty handed from Treviso last weekend the Scarlets will look to get their train back on the tracks but Leinster will have exactly the same ideas after losing to Edinburgh last weekend.
Nobody would have thought that this afternoon’s clash would have seen Scarlets close out the game with fourteen-men, this time due to injuries.
Despite trailing by ten points in the closing minutes Dan Jones stepped up on the 80th minute to secure a penalty that pushed the Scarlets into losing bonus point territory.
It’s the Scarlets who kick off the Dublin encounter with Dan Jones kicking long into Leinster territory.
Leinster come on the attack in Scarlets’ half but after a sustained period of attacking rugby by the Scarlets, started by a line out win by second row Steve Cummins just inside Leinster’s half the visitor’s get first points on the board.
Winger Johnny Mcnicholl is on the end of a thrilling phase where the ball is passed end to end. Macleod and Beirne look particularly strong with ball in hand making the hard yeards before Asquith gets the final long pass out wide to James Davies who finds Mcnicholl in support. He crosses for the opening try. Jones converts.
Mcnicholl is replaced by Corey Baldwin having injured his shoulder in the act of scoring with only eleven minutes on the board
As we edge towards the twenty minute mark Leinster kick into action from an attacking line out. Their driving line out is effective pushing the Scarlets back into our 22. The ball is cleaned out of the driving line out, shipped wide with winger James Lowe crossing in the far corner. The conversion attempt hits the posts with Scarlets remaining two points ahead.
Leinster are quickly back on the attack in Scarlets’ half and look dangerous with ball in hand. Sean Cronin is on a rampage taking three Scarlets to bring him to a stop but the ball is quickly turned over and Beirne puts boot to ball and hoofs it downfield.
The Scarlets keep the pressure on the men in blue but they turnover the ball and kick to touch. It’s a line out on the 22 for the visitors. Leinster win a penalty bringing Scarlets’ attack to a halt.
We’re back in possession just inside our own half. Jones chips the ball in behind Leinster’s defensive line but fullback Jordan Larmour kicks it downfield. Possession switches hands but Leinster’s second try comes from a Scarlets offering.
A Scarlets line out on our own 22 is won by Leinster. We win the ball back but they soon charge down our clearance kick, which gives them a platform to attack from. In the melee in the far corner winger Lowe gets his second.
Scarlets look to finish the first half with ball in hand and push Leinster back into their half. It’s not to be another score before the whistle blows though as a long pass goes dead into touch. A Leinster line out is won by the home team but the Scarlets hold their footing. Time’s up and ref calls a day to the first half.
Half time: Leinster 10 Scarlets 7
Leinster draw first blood in the second half with scrum half Luke McGrath crossing for a try in the corner near enough from the restart. Replacement Ciaran Frawley adds the conversion to put the homeside ten points ahead.
In the quarter of an hour that ensues it’s all Leinster as they keep hold of possession and win the territorial battle but they’re unable to break through the defensive barrier.
Leinster are penalised just shy of their own 10 metre line for a high tackle which hands outside half Dan Jones a shot at goal. He lines it up, strikes it sweetly and it’s over.
A decision in Leinster’s favour is overturned after the infringement is checked with TMO. Scarlets kick to touch but the line out throw in isn’t straight handing possession straight back to the homeside.
Ciaran Frawley adds three points with ten minutes remaining. Leinster are ten points ahead with ten minutes remaining on the clock.
Scarlets are down to 14 men after Tom Prydie is take from the field with an injury to his ankle. The visitors will play the remainder of the game facing a full strength Leinster.
With eight minutes remaining on the clock Jones lines up a penalty to bring Scarlets back within losing bonus point territory but the kick is pulled wide of the uprights. Score remains.
In what turned out to be a thrilling final five minutes the Scarlets won possession. The replacement front row of Phil Price, Emyr Phillips and Simon Gardiner put in a massive shift winning a scrum penalty that allowed Jones to kick for posts one final time. He showed fantastic mettle to nail the penalty and secure a losing bonus point for his side.
Final score: Leinster 20 Scarlets 13