Top spot for Scarlets
December 18, 2010
James Priestland landed 15 points in the Scarlets bonus-point win
© Getty Images
The Scarlets went a step closer to securing a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals thanks to a 38-15 bonus-point triumph over Benetton Treviso.
Dominic Day and Dan Newton put the Welsh region in the driving seat with first-half tries before Gareth Maule put the game beyond doubt with a third in the second-half. Rhys Priestland, deputising for the injured Stephen Jones, kept the scoreboard ticking over and contributed with an 18-point haul. And with five minutes to go Jonny Fa'amatuainu used every inch of his frame to stretch for the try line to touch down and clinch the vital bonus point.
Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies had highlighted the importance of his side picking up maximum points in the back-to-back clashes against the Italians and the Scarlets will leave northern Italy content after completing the job after bagging 10 points in the last two weeks.
They now sit top of the pile in Pool Five with 15 points but could be overtaken by the winner of Sunday's clash between Leicester Tigers and Perpignan at Welford Road.
Willem De Waal opened the scoring for the hosts after just two minutes but Priestland soon nudged the visitors in front with two well-struck penalties. Just before the half-hour mark Day opened the Scarlets try-scoring account after Josh Turnbull went close. The flanker drove at the Treviso line following an earlier Day charge. Turnbull was dragged down agonisingly short of the line but Day was on hand to scoop up the ball and dive over to score.
Priestland converted to give his side a 13-3 lead and 10 minutes later Newton grabbed a second try. But it was created by the hard work of Morgan Stoddard. A constant threat in Treviso's side, Stoddard stepped in off his wing and drove through the Italian defence before offloading to the supporting Newton.
At that point it looked like Scarlets could run away with it but Treviso's juggernaut pack hauled the Italians back into the game with a 20-metre rolling drive that ended with Robert Barbieri touching down. De Waal converted to bring the scores to 18-10 at the interval.
Priestland opened the scoring in the second half with his third penalty but Scarlets were dealt a blow when Vernon Cooper was sent to the sin-bin on 53 minutes. Things got worse for the west Walians when Marco Filippucci hit back with the hosts' second try. But Scarlets responded with their third try thanks to Maule.
Priestland converted the try and added a further penalty but the crucial bonus-point had looked to have eluded his side. But with just five minutes to go Fa'amatuainu stretched over the line for the crucial score that made it a maximum five points.
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