Scarlets headed to Treviso for Sunday afternoon rugby as the Guinness PRO14 makes a return to action.
The Scarlets knew that a positive result against Benetton would be a positive step in the championship campaign after other results went in the region’s favour earlier on over the weekend.
It was not to be however as the homeside had a spring in their step keeping Scarlets scoreless for the first hour of the game and the Scarlets are now second in Conference B, level on points with leaders Leinster and will face the Irish side on two occasions in the next three rounds of the competition.
Scarlets got their first points on the board after 62 minutes, through Wales Under 20s back Corey Baldwin, but Benetton secured their fourth bonus point try just minutes later through replacement Marco Zanon.
There’s controversy early on after centre Paul Asquith crossed under the sticks. Scarlets had an attacking phase from a five-metre line out but can’t quite assert themselves to get across the line. The ball is turned over by Benetton only for possession to be returned after a knock on by the homeside.
A Scarlets scrum leads to a Benetton penalty. A quick tap from them is taken but Paul Asquith is alert to the danger and he gathers an interception pass. He crosses but referee heads to TMO. Scarlets not deemed to have moved back 10m so try not given.
After a scoreless opening quarter Benetton draw first blood as they kick for the corner after winning another penalty. They keep the ball alive and a crossfield kick is headed to Monty Ioane’s hands. Johnny Mcnicholl is aware of the danger and gets to the ball first however fails to make it safe. The ball falls back behind him in the dead ball area and Ioane has a very easy touchdown.
The second quarter is all Benetton’s. They keep hold of possession, run attacking lines into Scarlets territory and secure a second try in the final minutes of the first half. Banks puts in a beautifully weighted kick over the top knowing that his teammate Ioane is lying in wait.
He gathers the ball and dances around Scarlets defenders to cross the line. Banks misses the conversion.
The whistle is blown for half time with the home team heading in to the changing room with ten points on the board.
Benetton get the second half underway in just the same vein as they finished the first. They have possession and territory and push Scarlets back into the far corners. Winger Ioane has the ball in hand once again and crosses the whitewash for his third try but the ball is held up.
On the 50 mark Ioane crosses the whitewash once again and this time is try is awarded. A Benetton scrum on their 10m line sees the homeside run an attacking move, ball in hand deep into Scarlets territory. Ioane has too much pace and adds a third try. Banks converts.
After an hour of rugby the Scarlets get themselves into a scoring position and don’t waste the opportunity. A kick to touch from Dan Jones gives the Scarlets an attacking platform just inside our own half. The ball is worked through the hands, territorial gains are made and Johnny Mcnicholl works a decent chip kick back inside from the far touchline. Corey Baldwin is there to gather and has the strength to pull himself across the whitewash. Jones adds the conversion.
The spark is short lived as Benetton replacement Marco Zanon hits back with a try in the corner from the restart. Scrum half Tito Tebaldi’s conversion attempt is pulled across the uprights.
Benetton finished the game in the same fashion of winning territory and possession shown throughout the game and make Scarlets defend their line.
The Scarlets do make a late fightback but with time not on their side it’s a big ask to get within touching distance of a losing bonus point let alone a victory
We head into their half and there’s clear determination from the Scarlets players to make the most of final opportunities. We win a penalty inside our own half and kick downfield. We get a move underway in midfield, Declan Smith is in support who wins the footrace against Benetton defenders. Tadhg Beirne comes on the charge, the ball is passed out to him and he crosses the whitewash. Jones’ conversion is wide of the uprights.
Final score: 22-12