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Tue 23 Mar 2021 | 11:52

Scarlets pip Blues into Euro spot

Scarlets pip Blues into Euro spot
Tue 23 Mar 2021 | 11:52
Scarlets pip Blues into Euro spot
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PRO14 WRAP: Scarlets edged Cardiff Blues in the race for a much sought-after European spot.

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The Scarlets overturned a 21-point half-time deficit to beat Connacht 41-36 in Llanelli to secure Champions Cup qualification.

In contrast Cardiff Blues saw their hopes of finishing in the top three of Conference B come to an end, despite a stirring second-half comeback to secure a bonus-point 34-15 victory over Edinburgh at the Arms Park.

Monday’s matches!

Cardiff Blues 34-15 Edinburgh

Cardiff Blues saw their hopes of finishing in the top three of Pro14 Conference B come to an end despite a stirring second-half comeback to secure a bonus-point 34-15 victory over Edinburgh at the Arms Park.

Cardiff needed to see off their Scottish counterparts, who had an outside chance of claiming a top-three finish themselves, and hope Welsh rivals Scarlets slipped to defeat against second-placed Connacht.

However, Scarlets overturned a 21-point half-time deficit to seal a 41-36 bonus-point win in Llanelli and secure third place in Conference B.

An out-of-sorts Blues should have trailed by more than 10-3 at the interval but four second-half tries from Liam Belcher, Rey Lee-Lo, James Ratti and Jarrod Evans was enough to secure the bonus-point win. Evans completed the scoring with two penalties and four conversions.

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Edinburgh’s defeat extinguished their hopes – they still have two games remaining in Conference B – despite two tries from George Taylor. Charlie Savala added a penalty and a conversion for the visitors.

Edinburgh dominated the opening period with the home side unable to break out of their own half. The Scottish side’s powerful number eight Bill Mata tested the Blues’ defence with a number of surges but the visitors could not make their early superiority count.

Cardiff broke out of defence and should have taken the lead but a straightforward penalty from Evans rebounded back off a post.

A couple of elusive runs from Blues full-back Matthew Morgan enlivened proceedings but he then gave away a penalty for not releasing, which debutant Savala kicked.

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Evans was successful with his second attempt before Edinburgh scored the first try of the game when Taylor cut a neat angle to breach the defence and score.

Savala converted before missing a simple penalty shortly afterwards but his side still held a deserved 10-3 half-time lead.

Bearing in mind the importance of the game, Blues were strangely lethargic in the first half but perhaps buoyed with news of Scarlets first-half capitulation – they trailed 33-12 to Connacht at the interval – the home side seemed rejuvenated after the restart.

Within four minutes, Evans had kicked a second penalty before Edinburgh lost tighthead prop Lee-Roy Atalifo to a leg injury.

After 51 minutes, Blues took the lead for the first time when Belcher finished off a succession of forward drives before the Scots suffered another injury setback when lock Andrew Davidson was carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

Four minutes later, Cardiff scored their second try. A superb run out of defence from Morgan tore Edinburgh apart with Aled Summerhill up in support to send Lee-Lo over to put the hosts 20-10 ahead.

Edinburgh looked in trouble but they rallied with a period of pressure, which ended with Taylor collecting his second score after a strong run from Damian Hoyland to cut the deficit to five points.

But Blues sealed victory when Evans raced on to a well-judged pass from Lloyd Williams to score before Ratti crashed over for the bonus-point try, with Evans converting both for a match tally of 19 points.

Play of the match

Blues full-back Morgan had threatened previously but this time he made it count as he burst away from inside his own half before neatly timing his pass to Summerhill, who provided Lee-Lo with an easy run-in.

Player of the match

Morgan’s creativity deserves a mention but it was another stellar performance from Josh Turnbull, who made a game-high 19 tackles and forced two turnovers as Cardiff claimed victory.

The scorers

For Cardiff Blues
Tries: Belcher, Lee-Lo, J Evans, Ratti
Cons: J Evans 4
Pens: J Evans 2

For Edinburgh
Tries: Taylor 2
Con: Savala
Pen: Savala

Teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ben Thomas, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Olly Robinson, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Rhys Gill
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Rhys Carré, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 James Ratti, 20 Alun Lawrence, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Hallam Amos

Edinburgh: 15 Damien Hoyland , 14 Blair Kinghorn, 13 James Johnstone, 12 George Taylor, 11 Eroni Sau, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Charlie Shiel, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Mesu Kunavula, 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Magnus Bradbury, 3 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 2 Mike Willemse , 1 Boan Venter
Replacements: 16 Sam Kitchen, 17 Murray Mccallum, 18 Angus Williams, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Ally Miller, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Tbc, 23 Mark Bennet

Referee: Nigel Owens
Assistant referees: Adam Jones and Wayne Davies
TMO: Rhys Thomas

Scarlets 41-36 Connacht

The Scarlets overturned a 21-point half-time deficit to beat Connacht 41-36 in Llanelli to secure Champions Cup qualification.

Tries from Aaron Shingler, Steffan Hughes (twice), Dane Blacker, Tom Rogers, and Javan Sebastian, along with 11 points from the boot of Dan Jones, secured the Scarlets a bonus-point win.

John Porch, Abraham Papali’i, Sean O’Brien, Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Kieran Marmion crossed for Connacht, while Conor Fitzgerald and Jack Carty kicked 11 points between them.

It took the Scarlets a mere three minutes to score their opening try of a dry evening in Llanelli.

The hosts created an overlap with a well-timed looping pass from captain Hughes sending Wales international Shingler over in the far left-hand corner.

Connacht hit back with a period of sustained pressure as their forwards lay siege to the Scarlets line, with powerful number eight Papali’i held up over the line.

The Scarlets were starting to get strained by Connacht’s pressure, resulting in hooker Marc Jones being sent to the sin bin for illegally killing the ball at the breakdown.

The visitors’ pressure finally told with their full-back Porch crossing the line after the Irish province had worked an overlap to the left after a couple of dominant scrums.

Connacht was soon celebrating their second try.

Ireland international scrum-half Marmion was the architect with a break into the Scarlets 22. The ball was quickly recycled, with a long pass from Fitzgerald taken by former rugby league star Papali’i who powered his way over the line.

Scarlets fullback Rogers had a try disallowed, with referee Ben Whitehouse sending tighthead prop Pieter Scholtz to the sin bin for leading with the elbow into a tackle.

Connacht scored arguably their try of the season with impressive centre O’Brien making a 50-metre break before offloading to Porch, who delicately flicked the ball back inside for O’Brien to score.

Steff Evans probed and attracted defenders, with a lovely offload sending Hughes over for the Scarlets’ second try.

But Connacht hit straight back with the hosts missing too many first-up tackles and, after going through the phases, Robertson-McCoy dived over from short-range before Marmion crossed to give them a commanding 33-12 lead at the interval.

The second half was a complete role reversal to the first with the Scarlets grabbing three tries in the space of 18 minutes. Hughes was first to score after a strong break from Johnny Williams before big lock Sam Lousi sent Blacker over.

Rogers then made amends for his disallowed try as he raced down the touchline to bring Scarlets back within two points.

The Scarlets were now rampant and took the lead through Jones’ boot after Connacht pulled down the maul and they extended their lead even further when replacement prop Sebastian powered over from short range, although Carty secured two losing bonus points with a late penalty.

Play of the match

A terrific 50-metre break from O’Brien took Connacht deep into the Scarlets 22. The impressive centre offloaded to full-back Porch, who delicately flicked the ball back inside to O’Brien to score one of the tries of this PRO14 season.

Player of the match

Wales centre Williams was the architect of the Scarlets’ comeback with his powerful ball-carrying getting them over the gain-line. His offloading was a sight to behold and he had a hand in three tries.

The scorers

For Scarlets
Tries: Shingler, Hughes 2, Blacker, Rogers, Sebastian
Cons: D Jones 4
Pen: D Jones

For Connacht
Tries: Porch, Papalii, O’Brien, Robertson-McCoy, Marmion
Cons: Fitzgerald 4
Pen: Carty

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Tom Rogers, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Steffan Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Will Homer, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Johnny Williams.

Connacht: 15 John Porch, 14 Ben O’Donnell, 13 Sean O’Brien, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Abraham Papali’i, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Paul Boyle (captain), 5 Gavin Thornbury, 4 Niall Murray, 3 Jack Aungier, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Jordan Duggan
Replacements: 16 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 17 Matthew Burke, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Oisin Dowling, 20 Sean Masterson, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Peter Sullivan.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant referees: Ian Davies and Rhys Jones
TMO: Jon Mason

Source: @PRO14Official

PV: 11
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Scarlets pip Blues into Euro spot | Rugby365