It’s the dawning of a new season here at Parc y Scarlets as the Scarlets welcome Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster.
Scarlets welcomed the return of a number of injured internationals for the mammoth clash including Leigh Halfpenny, Jake Ball, Hadleigh Parkes and Samson Lee.
Tries from captain Ken Owens and Gareth Davies as well as conversions and three Leigh Halfpenny penalties was enough to secure an all important second round victory for the Scarlets over foes Leinster.
Early pressure from the home side saw the Scarlets put pressure on Leinster’s line with flanker Josh Murphy shown a yellow card after only six minutes of play. The Scarlets however fail to capitalise on the early pressure with points on the board.
Scarlets retain possession and build through the phases again before Hadleigh Parkes makes a sweet break into Leinster’s 22, passes the ball back inside to Gareth Davies who crosses the whitewash. He touches down but we head to TMO for confirmation. Ball is deemed knocked on.
It’s not long before Scarlets come back on the attack. A scrum inside Leinster’s 22 and the forwards are put to work. Captain Ken Owens claims the try after working like a battering ram at Leinster’s defence. Leigh Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Scarlets 7 Leinster 0
Ioan Nicholas replaces Johnny McNicholl who went down in the earlier encounter as the try was scored.
Minutes later Scarlets are penalised in their own half for an infringement at the line out. Leinster’s Ross Byrne is offered a penalty opportunity but he’s wide of the mark keeping Scarlets seven points ahead.
As we cross over in to the second quarter Scarlets lose a little bit of their structure allowing Leinster back in to the game in the home side’s half.
Capitalising on the opportunity winger Fergus McFadden crosses in the far corner for Leinster’s first try of the evening with Byrne adding the conversion.
With just five minutes remaining of the first half Leigh Halfpenny adds a penalty pushing the Scarlets back in front.
Leinster have the upper hand in the closing moments of the first half. They kick to the corner, win the line out, put the Scarlets under pressure and Samson Lee is shown a yellow card after a TMO call on their try. It wasn’t a try but the tighthead prop is penalised for collapsing the maul.
Leinster go again. They win an advantage and opt for the scrum with Scarlets a man down. Werner Kruger comes on for the scrum. Ed Kennedy makes way for him with centre Hadleigh Parkes packing down at number 8. The scrum holds strong but with the man overlap they ship the ball wide with winger James Lowe crossing in the corner. Byrne adds the conversion.
Half time: Scarlets 10 Leinster 14
The second half gets underway with the Scarlets a man down after tighthead prop Lee was shown a yellow at the end of the first half.
Scarlets win a penalty at the scrum despite being a man down. A line out in Leinster’s half and a timely return for Samson Lee and Ed Kennedy. We drive in to Leinster’s 22. The ball is knocked on and the initial opportunity lost. Leinster are soon penalised and Halfpenny steps up for the penalty.
Leinster get back down field and win a scrum penalty inside Scarlets’ territory. The penalty is reversed after a solid Scarlets scrum and Dan Jones kicks downfield. Leinster come back on the attack and win a kickable penalty. Byrne steps up but misses keeping Scarlets only a point away from Leinster.
As we cross the hour mark we win a penalty on the halfway line as Andrew Porter is penalised for not rolling away at the ruck. Jones kicks to touch and wins the Scarlets a five metre line out. Scarlets drive towards the line but don’t quite make it over the whitewash. Advantage comes our way. Halfpenny steps up for the penalty and kicks it over. We’re back in the hunt.
Leinster get back into our 22 and kick to the corner. What looks like a solid opportunity to go for the try. Scarlets defend well and force Leinster to make an error. Jones kicks us to touch.
We get down in to Leinster’s 22. We hit Leinster defenders but continue to make ground in to their 22. Hadleigh Parkes spots a gap, he breaks through in midfield and with a beautiful offload puts Gareth Davies in under the posts. Halfpenny converts.
The closing ten minutes were an intense affair. Leinster captain Rhys Ruddock crossed for a try on the 74th minute with Byrne adding the conversion a minute later. Only two points in it with Scarlets looking to hold on and secure the victory to not only take the win but also maintain the unbeaten record at Parc y Scarlets.
Possession is back in Leinster hands in the final moments. They edge ever closer to Scarlets’ 22 positioning themselves for a penalty if the opportunity was to arise. Scarlets are well disciplined and composed.
They hold on and keep the Leinster attack at bay. Man and ball is grounded on the far touchline and Leinster lose possession. The referee blows the whistle and it’s all over. A Scarlets victory, an important four points and a positive result for Scarlets to build on with round three at the Parc next weekend.
Final score: Scarlets 23 Leinster 21
Man of the match: Ken Owens