Scarlets 21-15 Dragons, Magners League, January 1
Scarlets bounce back to winning ways
January 1, 2011
Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland steered his side to victory at Parc Y Scarlets
© Getty Images
The Scarlets climbed to second place in the Magners League table with a hard-fought 21-15 victory over the Dragons at Parc Y Scarlets.
The hosts, given a Christman stuffing by the Ospreys earlier this week, returned to winning ways thanks to a try, conversion and three penalties from fly-half Rhys Priestland and a further score from centre Gareth Maule. A try from scrum-half Wayne Evans and the boot of fly-half Jason Tovey put the Dragons on course for victory at the break but a late five-pointer from winger Aled Brew was all they managed in the second period.
The Scarlets were desperate to recover from their 60-17 hammering at the Liberty Stadium on Monday and coach Nigel Davies made key changes by bringing in No.8 David Lyons and scrum-half Tavis Knoyle, as well as giving centre Jonathan Davies his first start since he returned from an ankle injury. But the Scarlets found themselves 10-3 down at half-time despite the Dragons having Brew in the sin-bin.
The match had been locked at 3-3 since the 17th minute after Priestland and Tovey had exchanged penalties during the first quarter. Despite the Dragons having the better of territory the Scarlets missed out on chances to take the lead. Priestland made a hash of two penalty goal attempts and a try was ruled out by the television match official after full-back Dan Newton was held up over the line by Dragons wing Adam Hughes.
The Scarlets hopes of going in at half-time with a lead increased when Brew saw yellow for kicking out at Maule. But it was a show and go by Wayne Evans that produced the game's opening try deep in first-half injury time for the Gwent side. The scrum-half's break sent Tovey down the wing and he put in a neat little cross kick to send Evans over by the posts.
It took just 64 seconds for the home side to level the scores after the break when Maule crossed after good work by Davies after the Dragons failed to secure the kick-off. There was more misery for the visitors when they lost influential back-rower Gavin Thomas to the sin-bin for persistent infringements at the breakdown. That allowed Priestland to kick a penalty which put the Scarlets in the lead for the first time on 46 minutes.
But if the Scarlets thought they were going to continue to put the squeeze on the Dragons they were mistaken, and they lost a man of their own when they had centre Davies sin-binned on 64 minutes.
However, the Dragons missed a golden opportunity to draw level on 71 minutes when Tovey was wayward with a straightforward penalty attempt much to the delight of the home crowd. And the Scarlets made the most of the error as Priestland raced over for the Scarlets' second try after good work by replacement centre Regan King and Davies.
As the match entered injury time Brew cut the deficit to three points with a try after a kick ahead by Tovey, but there was still time for a third Priestland penalty to seal the home side's success.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry