Friday, 23 October 2009

Scarlets see off Newport in 'woeful' game

The WRU's report on tonight's Scarlets Dragons clash - the South Wales Argus called the game 'woeful'.

Six penalties by last-minute deputy Rhys Priestland ensured the Scarlets claimed the spoils in a tight affair against the Dragons at Parc y Scarlets in a Magners League contest which saw Stephen Jones cry off in the warm-up.

Jones was forced to watch the game from the sidelines with a ricked neck as Priestland answered Nigel Davies’s SOS to steer the Scarlets to victory with a faultess goal-kicking performance. Also of concern to Wales coach Warren Gatland will be Mark Jones fitness after the home skipper limped off late on.

The Dragons were also rocked prior to kick-off with both Luke Charteris and Wayne Evans late withdrawals from Paul Turner’s side.

The home side hit the lead in the 10th minute and never looked back. Dragons scrum half Danny Lee was penalised for being offside at a scrum and the Scarlets fly half sent his shot between the uprights to give the home side an early 3-0 lead.

The early stages proved a cagey affair with the majority of play staged between the 22s. The greasy ball was making handling difficult and clear cut opportunities were at a premium. Eventually the Dragons surged inside the Scarlets 22 but were stopped by Simon Easterby who came in from the side at a ruck. James Arlidge knocked over the penalty to even the score.
The Dragons then saw talismanic hooker Tom Willis leave the field with a calf injury to be replaced by Steve Jones.

The Scarlets went back ahead with Priestland’s second penalty in the 21st minute but for the rest of the half the deteriorating weather proved the only winner as the Scarlets were unable to string any phases together while the Dragons found it difficult to get their hands on the ball.

The players were greeted with driving rain for the re-start which meant there wasn’t much to shout about until Priestland slotted his third penalty in the 49th minute to give the Scarlets a six point lead.

Robert Sidoli was then penalised for hands in a ruck and Priestland banged over the penalty to give the Scarlets a handy 12-3 in continuing trying conditions. Sean Lamont then came into the game more with his physical presence in the midfield causing problems for the Dragons defence.

Priestland knocked over his fifth penalty after further Dragons indiscipline in the 56th minute. Referee Peter Allan finally lost his patience six minutes later and sent winger Aled Brew to the bin.

Replacement Scarlets hooker Ken Owens then joined Brew on the sidelines after he late charged Jason Tovey as both teams suddenly opened up as they found holes in each other’s defence.

Sharp shooter Priestland rifled over his sixth penalty four minutes from time to give the Scarlets a comfortable victory leaving the Dragons still searching for their first victory on the road this season.

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