Scarlets comeback downs Blues
October 22, 2010
Rhys Priestland scored the winning try for the Scarlets
© Getty Images
The Scarlets bounced back from their European mauling at the hands of Leicester with a confidence-boosting 16-10 win over Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night.
A try, conversion and penalty from fly-half Ceri Sweeney gave the hosts a 10-9 interval lead, Rhys Priestland kicking three penalties for the Scarlets. But Wales ace Stephen Jones came off the bench for the Scarlets to create a superb match winning try for Priestland with a rare moment of brilliance in a low-quality encounter.
Both sides were coming off defeats on the road in the Heineken Cup and the resultant lack of confidence showed on an error-strewn evening. The place kicking was hit and miss throughout and the pattern was set in the opening quarter, when the Blues Sweeney and Scarlets opposite number Priestland each kicked one and missed one, while Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny was wide with a long distance effort.
The visitors lost winger Morgan Stoddart to the sin-bin after a couple of dangerous tackles, the second ending the proceedings for Blues' wing Tom James. The Blues took advantage when lively scrum half Richie Rees darted through a half-gap and offloaded for Sweeney to touch down next to the posts, making his conversion a simple matter.
Referee Tim Hayes then evened the numbers up with a yellow card for retaliation by flanker Andries Pretorius, but Priestland was off target with the resultant penalty. The Scarlets acting skipper, Sean Lamont, grabbed a loose ball deep in his own half, sparking a move which saw the newly-returned Stoddart held up just short.
The visitors kept hammering away, but prop Iestyn Thomas was ruled by the television official to have lost the ball as he touched down. After the Blues again lost a man - scrum-half Rees, carded for a deliberate knock-on - Priestland further punished them with another penalty.
Television replays aided the Blues once more as the video referee ruled out a try by Scarlets debutant Ben Morgan, who was only playing because original choice Jonathan Edwards' wife went into labour an hour before kick-off. The 14-man Blues survived early Scarlets pressure on the restart, before the game settled into a war of attrition, unforced handling errors wrecking all attempts at creative back play. But shortly after the hour mark, the visitors produced the game's one moment of flair.
Replacement fly-half Jones, brought into the action to provide some control, floated a kick towards the left touchline, the giant Lamont palmed it inside and Priestland, now at full-back, raced through to score. Jones converted. A sharp break by centre Dafydd Hewitt gave the Blues some hope, but the move broke down.
Priestland was wide with a penalty from within his own half, but, despite losing replacement lock Dominic Day to a last-minute yellow card, the Scarlets held on without undue difficulty.
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