Scarlets welcome Benetton Rugby to Parc y Scarlets on Saturday afternoon in the third round of the Guinness PRO14.
A team that has proved a difficult opposition for the Scarlets on numerous occasions in the past, came to the Parc ready for a challenge as they looked to keep their 2 from 2 winning momentum alive.
It was the Scarlets who drew first blood but Benetton kept pushing the Scarlets, going ahead on two occasions and kept the pressure on with Scarlets getting the sixth and final try to ensure the victory on the 79thminute.
Scarlets get the third round clash, against Benetton Rugby, at Parc y Scarlets underway in thrilling fashion with a try from scrum half Gareth Davies under the posts after just four minutes.
After putting pressure on the visitors early on, regaining possession from the kick-off and heading in to their 22 Davies makes a break along the far touchline and finds an easy path across the whitewash after a superb turnover from tighthead prop Samson Lee before James Davies gets the ball out to the scrum half. Leigh Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Benetton hit back with a try just minutes later. Scarlets give away a penalty inside the ten metre line. Benetton kick to the corner and build through the phases. They make their way to the whitewash, the forwards pick and go an prop Nicola Quaglio gets their first points of the evening. Outside half Tommaso Allan converts.
We head back down field. It’s end-to-end stuff here with less than ten minutes on the clock! We make a break inside Benetton’s half and centre Kieron Fonotia makes a beauty of a run crossing for Scarlets’ second try. Halfpenny’s conversion looks certain but it pulls to one side and bounces off the upright.
Benetton are well up for the fight here this afternoon and they waste no time in pushing Scarlets back downfield. With fourteen minutes on the clock prop Simone Ferrari is the last receiver and he pushes his way over the whitewash. Allan adds the conversion putting Benetton ahead. Only 16 minutes played and four tries already in the bag!
Benetton win a penalty in Scarlets’ 22. They opt for the corner looking to put Scarlets under pressure once more. They are on a decent run, ball in hand, pick-and-go in Scarlets 22 but a knock on hands a scrum back to Scarlets.
26 minutes on the clock and Benetton’s lock Irne Herbst is shown a red card. He’s initially penalised for being off the feet but after closer inspection and a TMO call he’s shown a red card after his elbow made contact with Samson Lee’s head. Benetton down to 14 for the remainder of the game.
With just five minutes of the first half remaining Scarlets get back in to Benetton’s half with plenty of rhythm in their play. Benetton are forced to make a replacement as Quaglio heads for a HIA assessment.
We win a scrum inside their 22 and despite losing the ball in contact we regather the ball through Leigh Halfpenny, he dances around the defenders, passes to Blade Thomson who makes an absolute monster of a run making space for scrum half Davies. He makes a break and crosses the whitewash in the far corner. Halfpenny misses the conversion.
Half time: Scarlets 17 Benetton 14
It’s Scarlets that come out of the blocks first and back on the field for the second half but it’s Benetton who get the scoreboard ticking over. Haldeigh Parkes knocks the ball on and winger Monti Ioane keeps control of the ball with his feet, kicks it downfield with a deft kic and manages to touch down in the far corner. Allan misses the conversion.
Three minutes after and Benetton once again make use of a Scarlets error, the ball bounces in their favour under the posts and fullback Luca Sperandio crosses for a try. Allan adds the conversion.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne comes on for outside half Dan Jones. Benetton are shown a yellow card, they’re down to 13 men but the home side are struggling to find a foothold.
A kick downfield hands us a five metre line out but the ball is lost in conact and Benetton regain possession. Scrum Benetton. They’re penalised off their feet, Scarlets kick to the corner. We win the line out, throw the ball back inside but referee Linton is playing advantage. We come back for a scrum.
Benetton don’t have anyone covering the blindside. Davies picks the ball from the ruck, hands to McNicholl and he’s over in the corner. Halfpenny adds the conversion and we’re back within two points.
Scarlets fire straight back into action. Wing replacement Paul Asquith makes an impact almost instantaneously and he put peddle to the mettle, makes the hard yards in to Benetton’s territory. He’s got Ed Kennedy in support and he crashes over the whitewash. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
We’re 12 minutes out from the final whistle and Benetton get back in to our territory. A penalty just inside the 22 and directly in front of the post hands Allan an easy penalty. This game is going to go right to the wire.
With five minutes remaining Scarlets have the advantage. We come back for a scrum five. Scarlets remain composed and the try finally comes in the far corner with wing Tom Prydie crossing the whitewash with just a minute remaining on the clock after an Hidalgo-Clyne cross kick. Halfpenny, steely as ever, adds the conversion on the 80thminute securing a solid victory for the homeside.
Final score: Scarlets 38 Benetton 29
Man of the Match: Blade Thomson