Scarlets snatch draw with Munster
April 21, 2012
Scarlets playmaker Rhys Priestland struck late in the game to ensure a share of the spoils for his side
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Scarlets ended a 14-match losing run against Munster in all competitions with a 20-20 draw in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Parc Y Scarlets on Saturday night.
A Rhys Priestland penalty nine minutes from time ensured the Scarlets claimed a share of the spoils but realistically the hosts needed a victory to keep alive their hopes of securing a play-off place for the first time. The draw consolidates Munster in third place but means second-placed Ospreys are now assured of a home tie in the play-offs. The Scarlets are in fifth on the same number of points as Glasgow, who play in Treviso on Sunday with Ulster also still in the play-off mix. The Scarlets and Munster scored two tries each. Sean Lamont and Aaron Shingler went over for the Scarlets with Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo scoring for Munster.
With the Scarlets - minus injured centres Jon Davies and Scott Williams - under pressure in the early scrums they were given a let-off when Ian Keatley missed an eighth minute penalty from halfway. But a turnover in their own 22 produced a fine try for the Welsh region.
George North, who passed a late fitness test on a groin injury, made the initial burst before the ball was recycled with captain Matthew Rees putting Lamont over for the converted score on 11 minutes. But Munster showed their powers of recovery by scoring two converted tries in the space of five minutes.
First the Scarlets conceded a soft try when they failed to stop Ryan from a line-out with Keatley's conversion making it 7-7 on 17 minutes. And almost immediately the visitors were in the lead after a fine inside pass from Keatley put Zebo in, although the score was only awarded after the intervention of the Television Match Official Nigel Whitehouse.
Keatley and Priestland swapped penalties as Munster led 17-10 after 30 minutes. A good period of Scarlets handling earned them a penalty but Priestland missed to the left of the target. Just before half-time play was help up for more than five minutes for an injury to Tommy O'Connell who was carried from the field.
Munster had a golden opportunity to extend their 17-10 interval lead but Keatley failed to pick up a loose ball just a metre from the Scarlets line. The outside-half made some amends by kicking a 55th minute penalty to extend the Munster lead to 10 points after the Scarlets had been caught offside.
But just as Munster looked as if they were going to shut the game out the Scarlets got some momentum together with Shingler skipping past two tackles to score their second try after being put through a gap by Stephen Jones. Priestland converted to cut the visitors' lead to only three.
And Priestland was on target to kick a 40-metre penalty after 71 minutes to tie the scores at 20-20. The Scarlets had their chance to get into drop goal range but they turned over the ball at a crucial moment.
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