Scarlets' first half blitz too much for Cheetahs
MATCH REPORT: Scarlets made it two out of two in the EPCR Challenge Cup with an impressive 45-26 win over Toyota Cheetahs in Parma on Saturday.
It was Cheetahs who were the first to get up and running, Munier Hartzenberg scoring their first try inside three minutes.
Scarlets’ Sam Costelow struck back with a penalty three minutes later, and then a beautifully worked try from Steff Evans put the Welsh region ahead.
Evans extended Scarlets’ advantage further just seven minutes later, then Ryan Conbeer and Johnny McNicholl added a third and fourth with less than half an hour played.
A wonderful solo run from Sam Lousi stretched the visitors’ lead shortly before half-time.
Cheetahs worked hard to get themselves back in it during the second half, notching tries through Reinhardt Fortuin, Daniel Kasende and Friedle Olivier.
But Kemsley Mathias crossed the line in the final few seconds to crown a fine Scarlets win, following up on their crushing Round 1 victory over Aviron Bayonnais.
With the outcome wrapped up, the Welsh side lacked the same urgency in the second half and were forced into a defensive rearguard with Fifita in the bin for persistent infringement.
They defended resolutely and almost weathered storm, but the Cheetahs finally turned pressure into points with Fortuin powering over from short range.
That gave the South African side some momentum and they gave Scarlets plenty to think about with wing Kasende scoring an excellent try from distance before Oliver claimed the try bonus point.
Scarlets had the final word with their driving line-out resulting in an Owens try in the final minute ably converted by Costelow, who ended with 15 points to his name.
It was a good afternoon’s work for Scarlets who have found solace in Europe over the last fortnight and have claimed maximum points from the first two rounds of the Challenge Cup.
The two sides face off again in Round 3, with Scarlets welcoming the South African outfit to Parc y Scarlets on January 13.
For the Cheetahs
Tries: Hartzenberg, Fortuin, Kasende, Olivier
Conversions: Pienaar 3
For the Scarlets
Tries: Evans 2, Conbeer, McNicholl, Lousi, Owens
Conversions: Costelow 6
Cheetahs: 15 Tapiwe Mafura, 14 Dan Kapepula,, 13 David Brits, 12 David Brits, 11 Munier Hartzenberg, 10 Siyabonga Masuku, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 , 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Victor Sekekete (captain), 4 Rynier Bernardo,, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Sibabalo Qoma, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Robert Ebersohn, 23 Cohen Jasper
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Ioan Nicholas, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Joshua Macleod (captain), 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Sione Kalamafoni, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tom Price, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Leigh Halfpenny.
Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dan Carson (Ireland) & Padraic Reidy (Ireland)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)
*Photo credit: Cheetahs