Scarlets too good for Dragons
PRO14 REPORT: Second-half tries from Sione Kalamafoni and Sam Costelow inspired Scarlets to their sixth successive win over Welsh regions as the 2016/17 Pro14 champions edged a hard-fought encounter against Dragons 20-3 in Llanelli.
Two Dan Jones penalties after Josh Lewis’ effort had given Glenn Delaney’s charges a slender advantage at the break, as both teams struggled to assert their authority on the first Championship clash of 2021.
The second period was similarly cagey until Kalamafoni caught the Dragons defence out to touch down, and Costelow put the result beyond doubt at the death.
Scarlets have now lost just once in their last five Pro14 matches, while defeat for Dragons means they are still searching for their first win at Parc y Scarlets.
The hosts made a bright start and came close to breaching the Dragons backline in the early stages thanks to smart handling from Jones, Steff Evans and Tyler Morgan following a lineout.
Dragons held firm and then quelled the threat of a cross-field kick towards Evans, before going in front thanks to flyhalf Lewis’ 13th-minute penalty following an infringement by Javan Sebastian.
Scarlets lock Jake Ball was forced off injured two minutes later, and the contest remained cagey with both sides largely resorting to a kicking game in a bid to gain an advantage but being guilty of several unforced errors.
Jones levelled the scores close to the half-hour mark from the tee, before Lewis was quickly afforded the chance to regain Dragons’ three-point lead but saw his effort drift wide after Sebastian was penalised once again.
The most exciting period of play in the first half came in its final moments as Scarlets bore down on Dragons’ tryline thanks to good work from Steffan Hughes and Angus O’Brien, with Jones eventually knocking over his second penalty of the night to give his side the edge at the break.
Delaney’s men carried that momentum into the start of the second half and quickly went close to notching the first try of the match, only for Owen Jenkins’ last-ditch tackle to deny Evans in the corner.
The teams again exchanged several kicks before Evans came close to slipping through a gap in the Dragons defence in the 56th minute, and Matthew Screech invited further pressure by being awarded a yellow card for an off-the-ball tackle.
And Scarlets immediately made the most of their numerical advantage, No.8 Kalamafoni catching the away side off-guard from the lineout to go over for the try.
Conceding the score somewhat thrust Dragons into life and Jack Dixon made a powerful surge towards the home tryline late on, but replacement Costelow had the last say of the night with a silky score moments before the final whistle to seal a Scarlets win.
Tries: Kalamafoni, Costelow
Cons: D Jones, Costelow
Pens: D Jones 2
Scarlets: 15 Angus O’Brien, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Steff Hughes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Tevita Ratuva, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Paul Asquith.
Dragons: 15 Jonah Holmes, 14 Owen Jenkins, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ashton Hewitt, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Harrison Keddie, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Ben Carter, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Huw Taylor, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aneurin Owen, 23 Evan Lloyd.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Adam Jones, Gwyn Morris (both WRU)
TMO: Wayne Davies (WRU)