Scarlets withstand Edinburgh fightback
January 8, 2011
Edinburgh's Netani Talei makes a break during Saturday's clash with the Scarlets at Murrayfield
© PA Photos
The Scarlets kept up the pressure on Magners League leaders Munster by surviving some late pressure to record a 21-16 victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Saturday evening.
The two sides were locked at six points apiece at the end of a try-less first half, with Chris Paterson have cancelled out two penalties from Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland with a brace of his own.
The visitors then took control of the contest with tries from fullback Morgan Stoddart and centre Jonathan Davies only to see Paterson set up a grandstand finish when he crossed with just seven minutes to play. However, the Scarlets held firm to claim a victory which saw them regain second place in the table from Leinster, who beat the Ospreys on Friday night.
It was the visitors who made the brighter start and they had an early try-scoring chance. Rdinburgh scrum-half Mike Blair, playing his first game back since Scotland's sutumn International capitulation to New Zealand, threw a terrible pass which Scarlets flanker Richie Pugh hacked ahead into the Edinburgh in-goal area, but Paterson, also making a return from injury, averted the danger.
Moments later, an infringement at the scrum gave Priestland the opportunity to put his side in front. He duly obliged and he then doubled the Scarlets' advantage with a second accurate kick in the 20th minute.
In contrast to his elder brother, home fly-half David Blair appeared to be at the top of his game, producing an electrifying break which yielded only three points. The move petered out, but the penalty award at the resultant ruck enabled Paterson to put his side on the board.
Classy Scarlets centre Regan King made light work of the challenging underfoot conditions as he danced his way through the home rearguard on 25 minutes. His attempted inside offload ricocheted of the backtracking John Houston, but full-back Stoddart was unable to collect the ball as it lay inches from the line.
David Blair made another sizzling break and the hosts managed to draw level with Paterson converting a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
The second half began with a flourish, Stoddart making amends for his earlier failure by diving over in the corner a minute after the restart.
Priestland was off the mark with the conversion attempt but stretched his side's advantage with a third successful penalty, only for Paterson to respond in similar fashion.
Scarlets centre Davies gave a timely reminder to Wales coach Warren Gatland of his return to fitness, as he capped a man-of-the-match display with a try, romping over having successfully fended off the home tacklers. Priestland once again converted to make it 21-9 to Nigel Davies' side. And there was further good news for Gatland as fly-half Stephen Jones made his return from a shoulder injury by coming on for the final 17 minutes.
The introduction of fresh legs appeared to spark Edinburgh into life, with replacements Greig Laidlaw and Simon Webster combining to send the latter storming over, only for the score to be chalked off after the final pass was deemed to have gone forward.
Hope of a late comeback was fuelled when Paterson crossed the whitewash to finish off a clinical move for a converted score, but the visitors stood firm in the face of a late onslaught to clinch the win.
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