Scarlets edge Cardiff in Arms Park thriller
URC REPORT: Leigh Halfpenny kicked 13 points to give Scarlets a 28-22 United Rugby Championship win over Cardiff at the Arms Park.
Scarlets produced their best performance of the season but their cause was helped as Cardiff were disrupted by losing Liam Williams, Thomas Young and Rey Lee-Lo to injury.
Dane Blacker, Jonathan Davies and Johnny McNicholl scored Scarlets’ tries with Halfpenny kicking three penalties and two conversions.
Rhys Carre, Taulupe Faletau and Josh Adams were Cardiff’s try-scorers with Jarrod Evans adding two conversions and a penalty.
A penalty from Evans gave Cardiff an early lead but within a minute, Scarlets had responded with the opening try.
Cardiff lost possession at the restart for their opponents to win a penalty, which Blacker took quickly to be over the line in a flash.
Halfpenny converted so his side led 7-3 at the end of an evenly-contested first quarter.
The hosts suffered a blow when their lock, Lopeti Timani, was yellow-carded for a high tackle and the visitors were soon able to capitalise with some excellent ball-retention creating the space for McNicholl to outflank the cover defence and score.
Cardiff’s misery continued when they lost Liam Williams and Lee-Lo to injury with Rhys Priestland and Mason Grady coming on to replace them.
Almost immediately the home side fell further behind when more skilful passing sent McNicholl racing away down the right flank. The wing kicked ahead and when the ball bounced unfavourably for Cardiff, Jonathan Davies was on hand to touchdown.
Timani returned from the sin-bin in side to see his side reduce the arrears when Faletau forced his way over from a five-metre scrum with a conversion from Evans leaving Cardiff trailing 19-10 at the interval.
Four minutes after the restart, Halfpenny kicked a penalty but his side suffered a setback when their prop, Steff Thomas, was yellow-carded for a high shot on Thomas Young.
Cardiff immediately took advantage when Carre drove over from close-range but Halfpenny succeeded with a second to leave the hosts chasing the game.
Their injury woes continued when Young hobbled off but they still set up a tense finish when Adams collected an excellent cross-field kick from Ben Thomas to score.
However Halfpenny took his tally to 13 points with his third penalty to give Scarlets only their third league victory of the season.
Tries: Faletau, Carre, Adams
Cons: Evans 2
Tries: Blacker, McNicholl, J Davies
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Yellow cards: Lopeti Timani (Cardiff, 22′); Steff Thomas (Scarlets, 46′); Aaron Shingler (Scarlets, 79′)
Cardiff: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Lopeti Timani, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Efan Daniel, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Mason Grady.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Steff Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Evans, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Referee: Joy Neville (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gareth Newman (Wales), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)