Scarlets secure bonus point victory in thrilling encounter
The Scarlets headed to Port Elizabeth to take on Southern Kings at the Madibaz Stadium on Friday evening.
Currently sitting in second position in Conference B the Scarlets were keen to get the momentum back in to their game after two disappointing defeats in Europe.
A late change saw Daf Hughes comes in to the starting XV for Marc Jones who was pulled out because of illness with Taylor Davies coming in on the bench.
Southern Kings get the game underway exactly as they’d have liked to with a try in the first minute. From the kick-off we’re under pressure as we lose the ball from their kick. They win a line-out in our half and build through the phases.
Their pushed back but fullback Masixole Banda spots a gap and he dances through scoring under the posts. He converts his own try in the opening two minutes of play.
A period of pressure from the visitors in Kings’ 22 doesn’t return any points as the Kings win a penalty and run from deep. They head downfield and despite Scarlets regaining possession a crossfield kick goes over the touchline. Kings win another penalty just short of Scarlets’ 22 as we’re penalised for holding on. Banda adds the three points.
Outside half Dan Jones gets us off the mark at the 16 minute mark as Kings are penalised for a knock on just outside their 22. He wastes no time and hits it over the cross bar.
Scarlets come back on the attack. They push the Southern Kings boys all the way back to the five metre line. It looks promising. Jones throws a long pass to Paul Asquith on the wing. He’s got support. Kings steal the ball. They run from deep. A grubber kick is chased and Yaw Penxe gets his hands on it. Banda adds the conversion.
An opportunity presents itself in Kings’ territory. A penalty comes our way and Jones kicks to the corner. A five metre line out sees us drive over a try. Daf Hughes, who came in to the starting XV for Marc Jones, touches down. Jones adds the conversion.
Kings add a conversion with less than ten minutes remaining in the first half.
Within minutes their back in our 22 and they run in a third try. The pass looked forward and referee John Lacey asks for TMO approval. It was indeed forward. We head back to the place of the offence for a Scarlets scrum. We build through the phases. Kings are penalised by the 10m line and we kick to the corner. It’s another forwards drive, this time scored by Will Boyde!
Half time; Kings 20 Scarlets 15
Scarlets get the second half underway in the same spirit as the Kings did the first. Jones kicks us off and the chase is solid from the visitors. We regain possession and Will Boyde makes a fantastic break in midfield. He’s got Sam Hidalgo’Clyne in support. He darts around the Kings defenders before passing back inside to Ioan Nicholas who crosses for the try. Jones adds the conversion to put the Scarlets ahead.
Kings take little time to hit back with their third try. They keep the pressure on the Scarlets on our own try line before centre Harlon Klaasen touches down on the whitewash. Banda adds the conversion.
Scarlets are on the attack but the ball is lost and Kings, like they have all evening, run from deep. A grubber kick bounces beautifully and winger Bjorn Basson touches down with Banda adding the conversion.
In a good old-fashioned tit-for-tat the Scarlets come back at the Kings. We head downfield, edging ever closer to their try line. It’s a pick and go, pick and go phase. The ball is kept close and tight and it’s tighthead prop Werner Kruger who crashes over the line. Dan Jones adds the conversion to bring us back within five points of the Kings.
We build through the phases, look after the ball, move across the whitewash. We’ve crossed the line but we head to TMO. Held up? In what feels like an age to get a decision it finally comes. It’s a try! Jones adds the conversion and were back in the lead with six minutes remaining on the clock.
The final few minutes are just as frantic as the rest of the game has been. We drive the Kings back in to their own 22. A fantastic workrate from the forwards sees late replacement hooker Taylor Davies touch down for the Scarlets’ sixth try of the evening. Jones misses the conversion but the Scarlets have kept the pressure on the Kings.
The homeside are not ready to let this victory go. They come back down to Scarlets’ 22, put us under immense pressure on the whitewash with two penalties but our defence is too strong and the penalty comes our way. With the clock already showing 80 minutes referee John Lacey blows the whistle bringing what has been an enthralling game to a close.
Final score: Southern Kings 34 Scarlets 41
Man of the Match: Masixole Banda