Scarlets edge Bath in Rec thriller
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Scarlets won a breathtaking encounter against Bath 23-19 in the opening round at The Rec on Saturday.
Gareth Davies – on his 200th appearance for the Welsh outfit – got the ball rolling for the visitors before a stunning second half score from Kieran Hardy earned Scarlets the victory.
Bath, who scored tries through Ruaridh McConnochie and Will Stuart, thought they’d won it in the final seconds when Ben Spencer – who earlier kicked nine points – touched down. Unfortunately for the scrum-half, he was a yard short of the try line.
Bath drew first blood on the scoreboard after Scarlets were caught offside. Scrum-half Ben Spencer kicked the ball through the posts for the opening score.
Scarlets responded with a fantastic move down the left to take the lead. Davies was the beneficiary of some fantastic ball movement, the crucial run and offload coming from Steff Evans to set up Davies for a try on his 200th appearance, with Leigh Halfpenny adding the extras.
Not to be out done, Bath produced a stunning try of their own to re-take the lead. Some excellent ball-handling from Sam Underhill, Jonathan Joseph and Zach Mercer allowed McConnochie to finish of a sensational Bath move. Spencer was unable to kick the conversion.
Prior to the interval the two sides exchanged penalties, Bath’s Spencer kicked two penalties sandwiched by an effort from Halfpenny for the visiting Welsh side. Bath led 14-10 at the break.
An early second half penalty closed the gap to one point for the visitors before Bath powered through for the first try of the second period.
Starting from a scrum five metres out, Bath extended play through the phases before Will Stuart touched down to extend the hosts lead to six.
Scarlets scored the game-defining try soon after thanks to a sensational offload from Rob Evans, finding the hands of Hardy who scampered over the line. Halfpenny added the conversion, and later a penalty, before the breathtaking end to the game.
Bath travel to La Rochelle next week to take on the Top 14 leaders while Scarlets host Toulon on Friday.
Tries: McConnochie, Stuart
Pens: Spencer 3
Tries: Davies, Hardy
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Josh Matavesi, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4 Josh McNally, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker , 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Zach Mercer, 22 Will Chudley, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Ryan Conbeer, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Joshua Macleod, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Jonathan Davies.
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley (England), Sara Cox (England)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)