Scarlets start campaign with a win
November 12, 2011
Tavis Knoyle provided valuable guidance from the scrum-half spot
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The Scarlets started their Heineken Cup campaign in style with an impressive 31-23 win over Castres at Parc Y Scarlets on Saturday.
Second-half tries from Sean Lamont, Ben Morgan and Jonathan Davies saw the Scarlets celebrate their 100th European encounter with a win, as Stephen Jones also added 13 points with the boot. Castres' tries came from Marc Andreu and skipper Chris Masoe with Romain Teulet kicking 13 points.
Rhys Priestland, in his first competitive match since the World Cup, kicked a last-minute drop-goal to deny the Frenchmen a losing bonus point.
The Scarlets joined the likes of other seasoned European campaigners Toulouse, Munster, Leinster and Leicester on the 100-match mark and fielded a stellar back line including Wales trio George North, Davies and Jones. But the Scarlets were fortunate to lead 9-6 at the break against a bigger Castres pack who dominated at the scrum and looked dangerous at the line-out.
Even with a seven-man pack when number eight Joe Tekori was sin-binned for a late tackle on Scott Williams, Castres had the upper hand in the set-piece. The Scarlets looked more comfortable when the ball was moved wide but let two golden try opportunities go begging through forward passes.
The first saw Scotland wing Lamont go over but the score was disallowed after the pass from full-back Liam Williams, who was preferred to Priestland and Dan Evans. Castres had nearly taken a dramatic lead from the kick-off but flanker Steve Malonga dropped the ball over the line.
The French side took the lead on two minutes with a penalty for full-back Teulet before Jones replied with two successful attempts on six and 11 minutes. Teulet kicked his second just two minutes before Tekori found himself in the bin and Jones slotted his third penalty just before the break.
The Scarlets began the second half with real intent and scored the opening try in the first two minutes with Castres still down to 14 men. The region took advantage with Lamont going over under the posts. Teulet got a third penalty back before the Scarlets scored a length-of-the-field try with number eight Morgan crashing over as the Welshmen led 23-9 on 50 minutes.
But the Scarlets were not able to relax as Castres wing Andreu went in at the left corner. Teulet's conversion reduced the Scarlets' lead to 23-16. A third try for the hosts arrived 13 minutes later however when Scott Williams raced up the left flank and gave a try scoring pass to Davies. The Scarlets had the final say with Priestland putting over a last-minute penalty.
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