Sport Rugby

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Scarlets inch closer to the line

Benetton Treviso 15 Scarlets 38

The Scarlets went a step closer to securing a place in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals thanks to a bonus-point triumph over Benetton Treviso.

Dominic Day and Dan Newton put the Welsh region in the driving seat with first-half tries before Gareth Maule put the game beyond doubt with a third in the second half.

Rhys Priestland, deputising for the injured Stephen Jones, kept the scoreboard ticking over, contributing 18 points. And with five minutes to go Jonny Fa'amatuainu used every inch of his frame to stretch for the line to touch down and clinch the vital bonus point.

Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies had highlighted the importance of his side picking up maximum points in the back-to-back clashes against the Italians and the Scarlets will leave northern Italy content after completing the job and bagging 10 points in the last two weeks.

They now sit top of the pile in Pool 5 with 15 points but could be overtaken by the winner of today's clash between Leicester Tigers and Perpignan at Welford Road.

Willem de Waal opened the scoring for the hosts with a penalty, after Tavis Knoyle held on in the tackle, after just two minutes but Priestland soon nudged the visitors in front with two well-struck penalties.

Just before the half-hour mark, Day opened the Scarlets' try-scoring account after Josh Turnbull went close. The flanker drove at the Treviso line following an earlier Day charge.

Turnbull was dragged down agonisingly short of the line but Day was on hand to scoop up the ball and dive over to score.

Priestland (pictured) converted to give his side a 13-3 lead and 10 minutes later Newton grabbed a second try, created by the hard work of Morgan Stoddard. A constant threat in Treviso's side, Stoddard stepped in off his wing and drove through the Italian defence before offloading to the supporting Newton.

At that point it looked like Scarlets could run away with it but Treviso's juggernaut pack hauled the Italians back into the game with a 20-metre rolling drive that ended with Robert Barbieri touching down. De Waal converted to bring the scores to 18-10 at the interval.

Priestland opened the scoring in the second half with his third penalty but Scarlets were dealt a blow when Vernon Cooper was sent to the sin-bin on 53 minutes.

The Scarlets outhalf suffered a knock soon after the restart but although the he stayed on the field he had to temporarily hand over the kicking duties to Newton, who comfortably slotted the penalty chance that came his way.

Things got worse for the Welshmen when Marco Filippucci hit back with the hosts' second try. But Scarlets responded with their third try thanks to Maule.

Priestland converted the try and added a further penalty but the crucial bonus-point had looked to have eluded his side. But with just five minutes to go Fa'amatuainu stretched over the line for the key score that made it a maximum five points.

Scorers -- Benetton Treviso: Barbieri, Filippucci try each, De Waal 1 pen, 1 con. Scarlets: Day, Newton, Maule, Fa'amatuainu try each, Priestland 3 pens 3 cons, Newton 1 pen.

Benetton Treviso: McLean (Williams 29); Maddock, Benvenuti, Sgarbi, Vilk; De Waal, Gori (Semenzato 77); Rouyet (Muccignat 77), Ceccato (Sbaraglini 32), Cittadini (Filippucci 50), A Pavanello, Van Zyl, Barbieri, Zanni (Bernabo 77), Vosawai (Di Santo 50).

Scarlets: Newton (L Williams 60); Stoddart, Maule, King, Lamont; Priestland (S Williams 77), Knoyle (Phillips 53); I Thomas, Owens (John 53), Gardner (Roberts 53), Cooper (Fa'amatuainu 63), Day, Turnbull, J Edwards, Morgan.

Referee: P Allan (Sco).

Sunday Independent

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