Scarlets see off Leinster
PRO12 REPORT: Scarlets made the Pro12 Final for the first time after a brave defensive display in the second half was enough to see off Leinster 27-15.
The Welsh side became the first away team to win a Pro12 semifinal and they had to do it for the majority of the game with 14-men after Steff Evans was sent off at the end of the first half.
Scarletts ran in three tries in the first half to take a commanding lead but were forced to defend in the second half as Leinster failed to take advantage of the extra man.
Liam Williams scored two late penalties to take the game away from Scarlets and book their place at the Aviva Stadium next week, where they will play the winner of the second semifinal between Munster and Ospreys
Scarlets took the lead after just nine minutes when Evans finished off a good move started by Jonathan Davies who wriggled through a tackle on a counter-attack and he got it out to John Barclay, who passed it out to his wing to finish it off with an electric burst of pace and Rhys Patchell added the conversion.
The hosts got themselves on the board when Ica Nacewa slotted a penalty when Scarlets second row forward Lewis Rawlins was penalised for not releasing his man in the tackle.
After that, Leinster looked to add to that score straight away as they went on the attack almost immediately as Joey Carbery worked his way through the Scarlets defence but they managed to regain possession.
Leinster continued to pile on the pressure and scrumhalf Luke McGrath was only denied a try after excellent defensive work from Evans, who made a last-ditch tackle and Liam Williams got over the ball and snatched it back for the visitors.
But the pressure finally told as Leinster went over for their first try and put the hosts ahead. A well-worked team move was finished off by Garry Ringrose. The Leinster centre ran at pace and took an offload from Jack Conan before crossing the line and Johnny Sexton added the extras to make it 10-7.
But no sooner had Leinster scored their try then Scarlets replied with one of their own. This time it was Aaron Shingler who burst through a huge gap and combined with scrumhalf Gareth Davies to go over the line straight from the restart and Patchell scored a quick conversion.
And minutes later they ran in another try, this time after an offloading masterclass from Scott Williams, James Davis and Evans to send Davies in under the posts for one of the best tries of the season. And again Patchell added the extras to put Scarlets 21-10 ahead.
But with half time approaching, Scarlets were reduced to 14 men as Evans was sent off for a tip-tackle on Ringrose. Leinster went for the corner with the resulting penalty but the Scarlets were able to clear and make it through to the second half.
The visitors were forced to put in a real defensive shift in the second half as they looked to protect their 11-point advantage.
There was a huge cheer as Leinster's Hayden Triggs left the field for the final time before he retires at the end of the season and he was replaced by Devin Toner.
The pressure of the extra man finally told when Leinster stole the ball at the line-out and then used their power to push for the line and eventually Jack Conan crossed the line but Nacewa missed the chance to reduce the lead even further, as he failed with the conversion.
And Scarlets were able to extend their lead on a rare venture into the Leinster half when Liam Williams slotted a penalty to extend their lead to nine points and that was enough for them to hold on and make it back to Dublin for next week's Final.
Tries: Ringrose, Conan
Tries: S Evans, Shingler, G Davies
Cons: Patchell 3
Pens: L Williams 2
Red card: Steff Evans (Scarlets, 37 - tip tackle)
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (captain), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 James Tracy, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Seán O'Brien, 22 Jamison Gibson-Park, 23 Zane Kirchner.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay (captain), 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Hadleigh Parkes, 23 DTH van der Merwe.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Simone Boaretto (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)