Scarlets win but left feeling Blue
May 6, 2011
The Scarlets saw off Cardiff but George North and his team-mates ended up disappointed
© Getty Images
The Scarlets produced a stirring performance to record a 38-23 victory over the Cardiff Blues in Llanelli on Friday night but the home side's heroics were not enough to claim a place in the Magners League play-offs.
The Scarlets went into the game in sixth place, three points behind their opponents, who stood fourth. However, the hosts knew that a resounding victory might not be enough as the fifth-placed Ospreys were completing their regular season campaign against basement boys Aironi. And so it proved as the Ospreys claimed a late win in Viadana which sees them progress to the play-offs.
The Scarlets fielded centre Regan King in his final match for the region before he joins French club Clermont Auvergne, while injuries meant the Blues were forced to play Jamie Roberts on the wing.
Honours had been shared at the end of a dramatic first half with the sides locked together at 20-20. During a dramatic opening 40 minutes of changing fortunes both sides scored two tries.
In the first quarter the Scarlets took a 13-3 lead with by a try for prop Iestyn Thomas who finished off a drive from a lineout. That was after Blues lock Michael Paterson had been sent to the sin-bin following a late challenge on outside-half Stephen Jones. But the Blues came back with a converted try from wing Chris Czekaj, who was sent over by Roberts, and a Dan Parks penalty.
And 13-13 became 20-20 as both sides scored tries within two minutes of each other. Ben Morgan scrambled over after slipping a tackle and Dafydd Hewitt benefited from some sloppy Scarlets defence when he escaped from a double tackle.
Parks failed with a drop-goal attempt at the end of the first half but he made amends with a successful drop-goal effort in the second minute after the restart as the Blues got their noses in front for the first time at 23-20.
The Blues suffered a setback when No.8 Xavier Rush was taken from the field on a stretcher following a clash of heads with Scarlets prop Rhys Thomas. And after Parks missed a penalty shot the Scarlets regained the lead when wing Sean Lamont went in down the left for an unconverted try. It was a double blow for the Blues as Martyn Williams was also sin-binned for a professional foul.
After Priestland grabbed a penalty to take the Blues out of losing bonus point territory, the Scarlets scored a bonus point try through Lamont. But delight the victory was tempered by news that the Ospreys had qualified for the final play-off spot.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall
John Griffiths digs into the distant past to try to establish the identity of an England international whose life is a virtual mystery