Scarlets get back to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday evening needing a victory to not only get the Guinness PRO14 season back on an even keel but also to regain some confidence after a disappointing run of games over the festive period.
Scarlets outside half Dan Jones kicks us off at Parc y Scarlets for the last derby of the festive season. The talking point ahead of the game was captain Ken Owens starting at number 8 because of the region’s injury in the back row with hooker Ryan Elias starting in the front row for his 100thappearance.
Outside half Dan Jones gets us underway at the Parc kicking us in to Dragons territory and kicking towards the Loughor Estuary. Within minutes we’re up in Dragons territory putting pressure on the opposition and captain Ken Owens gets to pack down at number 8 for the first time this evening.
We’re just short of Dragons’ 22 line and it’s a huge scrum and a penalty in our favour. Jones steps up and kicks the penalty. We’re on the scoreboard.
With six minutes on the clock Dragons line up a penalty after Scarlets are penalised this time at the scrum. Josh Lewis steps up from the ten metre line but his attempt hits the post.
Scrum half Kieran Hardy chases the 22 drop out and makes a break in Dragons territory. He shows good pace and dances around defenders getting the Scarlets back up to Dragons’ 22.
It’s a second penalty for Dan Jones on the ten minute mark with Scarlets’ pressure forcing errors from the Dragons just shy of their 22.
Scarlets lose the scrum penalty after a few re-sets despite the Dragons loosehead letting go of the bind. Dragons kick downfield but we soon get back in to opposition territory. Dragons have a line out on their 22, we regain possession and build an attacking phase. A knock-on hands possession back to the Dragons but plenty of determination and physicality on show.
On the half hour mark Dragons get a penalty on the ten metre line and this time Lewis gets it over. They’re up and running.
In the final minutes of the first half we get an attacking phase up and running in Dragons’ 22. Rob Evans gets in position for a pick and go and he’s over the line. Referee Craig Evans calls on the TMO to confirm grounding. Try not given. Dan Jones steps up for the penalty and it’s over.
We’ve got plenty in the tank to keep fighting to the last second of the first half. We win another penalty in Dragons’ 22 and with the clock showing 40 we opt for the posts. Jones kicks, it’s over.
Half time: Scarlets 12 Dragons 3
Dragons get first points on the board in the second half through a Josh Lewis penalty after a decision by the referee incensed the home crowd in the North Stand enclosure.
We get back in to Dragons territory through a Jones kick to touch. From the line out we build through the phases, referee plays advantage. Jones puts in a chip over the top but it falls in to Dragons hands. We come back for the advantage. Dan Davis loses the ball at the top of the line out and the opportunity is lost on this occasion. Dragons kick back downfield.
We waited 57 minutes but a try came in this crucial derby match with winger Ioan Nicholas finding himself on the end of the attacking move in Dragons’ 22 after much pressure from the homeside. Ryan Elias throws in to the line in front of the South Stand, on his 100thappearance, Kennedy wins at the top f the line out, it’s out and passes through the hands gracefully. Johnny McNicholl puts Nicholas in for the try with the final pass in the line. A much-needed boost for the Scarlets and despite a missed conversion the home team move eleven points clear of the opposition.
Changes have been made with Tom Phillips, Werner Kruger, Wyn Jones, Marc Jones and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne on for Ed Kennedy, Samson Lee, Rob Evans, Ryan Elias and Kieran Hardy.
With plenty of fire in the belly we get back in to Dragons territory playing the attacking rugby we’re synonymous for. Everyone is keen to get their hands on the ball and a mammoth drive by the forwards in their 22 sees us put the opposition under huge pressure. Unfortunately we’re unable to turn the pressure in to points as the clock ticks towards the 70thminute.
We head in to the final ten minutes of the game. Scarlets get straight back down in to opposition territory. It’s a strong run to the whitewash but we can’t quite get over the line.
We head back for the advantage after another stellar push forward and as we head back for the advantage replacement scrum half Hidalgo-Clyne takes a quick tap and he’s over.
Dragons have the last word despite Scarlets’ consistent pressure and James Benjamin crosses the whitewash with Tovey adding the conversion bringing the final score to 22-13.
Final score: Scarlets 22 Dragons 13
Man of the match: Dan Jones