Scarlets too good for Dragons
PRO14 REPORT: Scarlets ensured they did all they could in the battle to qualify for the Pro14 semifinals as they won their Welsh derby with Dragons at Rodney Parade in an entertaining encounter.
Knowing they had to win if they would stand any chance of overhauling Munster for second in Conference B, the visitors ran in six tries to earn a bonus-point victory 41-20.
Samson Lee, Steffan Evans, James Davies, Johnny McNicholl, Tom Rogers and Dane Blacker all scored for Scarlets in a match which contained no fewer than nine tries and no shortage of action – Jared Rosser, Taine Basham and Adam Warren crossing for Dragons.
The result means Scarlets sit one point clear of Munster, with the baton now passing to Johann van Graan’s side as they must beat Connacht to qualify for the final four.
The hosts started positively but Scarlets attacking intent was also apparent, as they hunted the bonus point win with a semifinal place on the line.
But, after turning down a kickable penalty with more in their sights, they fell behind when Sam Davies slotted over with a penalty.
It didn’t take long for Scarlets’ building pressure to tell though as Lee dotted down in the 18th minute after good work from their pack in driving Dragons back.
Not to be outdone though, Dragons soon fought back into the lead when Rosser raced over on the overlap.
In back-and-forth fashion Glenn Delaney’s side, knowing they needed tries and lots of them, then crossed as Evans scored his 49th try in Scarlets colours after their pack once more laid the platform.
And the visitors moved to within one try of that crucial bonus point after the power of Scarlets’ pack displayed itself again as Davies went over.
But Dragons kept on the heels of their Welsh rivals when Basham scored his seventh try in 15 Pro14 matches to reduce the Scarlets lead to 19-15 at half-time.
With just over 20 minutes to go though Scarlets got the all-important fourth try when McNicholl picked up a well-timed Dan Jones grubber to score.
Jones was again provider as Scarlets put the cherry on the cake with a fifth try 15 minutes from time, his cross-field kick finding replacement Rogers who dotted down.
Another replacement, Blacker this time, added Scarlets sixth try inside the final ten minutes and while Dragons scored again through Warren two minutes from the end the result was never in doubt as attention now turns to Thomond Park.
Tries: Rosser, Basham, Warren
Tries: Lee, Evans, Davies, McNicholl, Rogers, Blacker
Cons: D Jones 4
Pen: D Jones
Dragons: 15 Will Talbot-Davies, 14 Jared Rosser, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain), 8 Harrison Keddie, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Max Williams, 3 Chris Coleman, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Josh Reynolds.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Conor Maguire, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Joe Maksymiw, 20 Huw Taylor, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Arwel Robson, 23 Jack Dixon.
Scarlets: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 James Davies, 6 Ed Kennedy, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Paul Asquith, 23 Tom Rogers.
Referee: Craig Evans
Assistant referee: Ben Whitehouse, Gwyn Morris
TMO: Ian Davies