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South African hooker helps Scarlets stun Benetton

MATCH REPORT: Replacement hooker Eduan Swart scored a last-minute try to rejuvenate Scarlets’ United Rugby Championship season with only their third win of their league campaign – a 16-13 comeback victory over Benetton.

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Moments before, Steff Evans had been held up over the line but Swart made no mistake when his teammates shunted him over from a driving maul.

Sam Costelow converted to add to his three penalties.

Onisi Ratave scored Benetton’s try, with Jacob Umaga succeeding with two penalties and a conversion.

Costelow and Umaga exchanged early penalties and the Italians should have gone ahead with another kickable penalty but they chose an attacking line-out and it proved to be the wrong call.

However, Benetton were not to be denied for long as they sped the ball wide for the powerful Ratave to brush off a weak tackle from Ioan Lloyd to cross, with Umaga converting from the touchline before adding a penalty.

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The visitors soon threatened again when former Bristol player Andy Uren broke from a scrum and it took an excellent tackle from Tom Rogers to deprive Ratave of a second try.

In the tricky wind, a 22-metre penalty attempt from Costelow rebounded back off a post but that was the precursor for Scarlets to build up their first sustained period of pressure.

Aided by a malfunctioning Italian line-out, the home side camped in the opposition 22 but handling errors at critical times prevented them from capitalising and they trailed 13-3 at the interval.

Umaga booted the restart straight into touch and a penalty at the resulting scrum gave Scarlets an early platform in the second half.

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However, the hosts continued to infringe at the breakdown so frequent penalties awarded against them prevented any momentum.

Scarlets replaced their skipper Gareth Davies with Kieran Hardy and it paid dividends when the replacement was high-tackled for Costelow to kick a penalty, the first of two in quick succession.

The home side suffered a blow when number 8 Vaea Fifita was helped off with a leg injury but they continued to dominate in terms of territory and possession.

Lock Alex Craig and centre Johnny Williams were at the forefront of their efforts and they were rewarded when Swart finished off a driving maul with the last play of the game.

Player of the Match
Replacement hooker Swart played a key part in Scarlets’ rousing finale and was rewarded with the match-winning try as almost the whole of his side joined a maul to drive him over.

Play of the Match
In a disjointed encounter, highlights were few and far between but Onisi Ratave finished off a neat round of passing in style by bumping off Ioan Lloyd’s tackle for the Italian try.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Try; Swart
Con: Costelow
Pens: Costelow 3

For Benetton:
Try: Ratave
Con: Umaga
Pens: Umaga 2

Teams

Scarlets: 15 Ioan Lloyd, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Tomi Lewis, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies (captain), 8 Vaea Fifita, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Teddy Leatherbarrow, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Alex Craig, 3 Harri O’Connor, 2 Shaun Evans, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Eduan Swart, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Eddie James, 23 Steff Evans.

Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Filippo Drago, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Toa Halafihi, 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Eli Snyman (captain), 4 Iachizzi Edoardo, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Siua Maile, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Bautista Bernasconi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Leonardo Marin.

Referee: Chris Busby (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Rhys Jones (Wales), Elliot Mayor (Wales)
TMO: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

 

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