Dragons slay Scarlets in thriller
PRO14 REPORT: Dragons celebrated the end of their season in glorious style as Matthew Screech’s double was enough to record a 34-32 win over Scarlets on Judgement Day clash.
Scarlets, with a place in the PRO14 Final Series their target before kick-off, started like a house on fire and scored tries through Ioan Nicholas, Johnny McNicholl and Gareth Davies.
Dragons had only two Josh Lewis penalties to show for their first half efforts but touched down through Screech, Jack Dixon and Lewis before Jonathan Davies and McNicholl replied.
In a see-saw game Screech then scrambled over at the death, Jason Tovey held his nerve to nail the conversion and Rhys Patchell missed with a late drop goal attempt that would’ve stolen back the points.
With the opportunity to get off the bottom of the Conference B table Dragons started solidly at Principality Stadium, striking two penalties through fly-half Lewis.
Their momentum was stymied as wing Hallam Amos saw yellow for a knock-down but it was on the other flank where Scarlets struck as Nicholas barged over from eight metres out.
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny sailed the tricky conversion over and Scarlets led 7-6, and they soon had their second as McNicholl darted into the corner with a clever finish.
This time Halfpenny hit the post but more points would come on the half-hour as a show-and-go from Gareth Davies produced a third try, also in the corner.
Scarlets led 17-6 and that’s the way it stayed at the break, with Dragons No.8 Ross Moriarty unable to ground a chance immediately after the interval.
The Dragons were able to get their first try on 47 minutes, however, as lock Screech managed to get over – Lewis nailing the conversion.
Next came the try of the game as Amos darted away down the left and played a one-two with Aaron Wainwright before feeding Dixon to score.
There were more Dragons celebrations on 56 minutes as Lewis spotted a loose pass coming a mile away and picked it off to go in under the posts.
Their opponents were in no mood to lie down though and fought their way back down the other end, with Ken Owens somehow managing to pop the ball off to Jonathan Davies in the corner for a fourth try.
McNicholl produced another searing finish in the corner which on another day may have killed Dragons’ resolve, but back came Screech and after a TMO decision the lock was awarded a close-range try, Tovey’s cold-blooded conversion winning the day.
Tries: Lewis, Screech 2, Dixon
Cons: Lewis 3, Tovey
Pens: Lewis 2
Tries: Nicholas, McNicholl 2, Davies, Davies
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Yellow cards: Amos (Dragons, 16), Bulbring (Scarlets, 50)
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams; 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos; 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Aaron Wainwright, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee (captain),1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Max Williams, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Jared Rosser
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Ioan Nicholas; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Will Boyde, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Josh Helps, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones,
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger,19 Blade Thomson, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Kieron Fonotia.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Rhys Jones (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)