Scarlets cruise past Dragons
September 24, 2010
Stephen Jones was in fine form for the Scarlets
© Getty Images
The Scarlets rocketed towards the Magners League summit after picking up a 27-14 victory over the Dragons in Newport on Friday night.
Three first-half tries laid the foundations for the victory and even a concerted fightback by the home team could not prevent their third loss in four games this season. With an impressive array of Welsh coaching staff - including national boss Warren Gatland - watching from the stand, the heat was on the players to make an impression prior to the autumn internationals squad announcement in a few weeks time.
And, if Gatland and his allies watched anyone in particular, it was the Scarlets as they dominated the game to lead 24-3 at the break. The men of the match were centre Jonathan Davies and outside-half Stephen Jones.
Davies set up the opening try for impressive 18-year-old wing George North before picking the ball up on the Dragons' 10-metre line and surging to the posts to score despite the attentions of despairing tacklers Will Harries and Adam Hughes.
Jones was involved in Davies' try and kicked beautifully out of hand and from the tee. Welsh hooker Matthew Rees piled on the agony for the Dragons as he scrambled over for the third try from a few metres out, but only after referee James Jones had consulted with video official Neil Ballard.
The Scarlets' defence was rock solid and allowed the Dragons nothing but the home side did not make it easy for themselves when flanker Robin Sowden-Taylor was sin-binned for a ruck offence. However, the visitors gave the Dragons a two-man advantage for 13 minutes of the second-half when first Davies and then Rees were sent to the sin-bin.
The Dragons banged over two penalties during that time and were gifted another advantage when a third sin-bin arrived, this time scrum-half Tavis Knoyle yellow carded. The Dragons did make it count on this occasion as a neat move saw centre Tom Riley put Harries over in the left corner to make it 24-14.
The momentum the Dragons were searching for came as the visitors were put under the cosh in their own territory. But it all counted for nothing as they failed to breach the Scarlets' defence, before Stephen Jones kicked an easy penalty for a 13-point lead - which was enough for victory.
"I had a couple of injuries before but this was different." Tom Hamilton talks to Scott Williams about the O'Driscoll tackle, Wales and Scarlets
"To be the best it's not about the flash stuff, it's actually about everything done at a very high level." Tom Hamilton on the England squad
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden