Scarlets headed to Treviso on Saturday for the fourth round of the European Rugby Champions Cup campaign taking on Benetton in the second of the back-to-back festive clashes.
After securing a bonus point victory against the Italians at Parc y Scarlets last week the West Wales region knew that they’d have to secure a win as a bear minimum to keep their hopes of progressing in the competition alive.
The Scarlets didn’t falter, despite travel disruption following Italian air traffic control strikes, securing the fourth bonus point try early on in the second half claiming the five points and in doing so keeping the pool wide open.
Dan Jones gets the fourth round of the European Champions Cup action underway as the Scarlets play towards the setting sun in Treviso.
The opening five minutes are exciting with both teams looking to play an exciting brand of rugby. Possession exchanges hands but Scarlets have a push on the home team with a scrum just inside their 22 in the shadow of the post.
Tadhg Beirne got the Scarlets moving winning turnover from Benetton attack inside Scarlets’ own half. Paul Asquith gets the ball ahead with a neat chip through. It’s picked up by Steff Evans. He’s away. He loses his footing but the ball is recycled. The attacking phase continues, Johnny Mcnicholl gets away but like Evans he loses his footing.
The forwards come in to play, Beirne once again very evident. The ball is recycled and the Scarlets win a penalty. Halfpenny steps up and it’s over to get the scoring underway.
With twelve minutes on the clock Scarlets get their first try on the board. Dan Jones kicks the ball downfield but Benetton pick up before it rolls into touch. It’s hoofed back down field. Halfpenny looks to run the ball from inside his own half before putting in a grubber kick. It’s picked up beautifully by Asquith who finds Mcnicholl in support. He runs along the touchline scoring in the corner. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Poite plays advantage in Scarlets’ favour in Benetton’s half. Gareth Davies sees an opportunity. He kicks across field, Mcnicholl is there to gather. He darts around Benetton defenders. It’s looking good. A pass back in side is intercepted and Benetton’s fullback Jayden Hayward thinks he’s going to run the length of the field. Referee brings us back for the advantage.
As we head into the second quarter the Scarlets are putting pressure on the Italians in their own half. They’re pushed back slightly after losing a try-scoring opportunity in the far corner but Scarlets are soon back in the groove. A grubber kick in midfield from centre Scott Williams finds Mcnicholl, he makes the hard yards before finding Asquith in support who crosses for Scarlets’ second try. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Benetton with another line out deep in Scarlets 22 after passing on a penalty opportunity. They look to run an attacking phase. Scarlets defending but Benetton still in possession.
As we head into the final five minutes of the first half Scarlets win a penalty in Benetton’s 22. They opt for a scrum and Davies crosses for the region’s third try after an easy run passed the homeside’s defenders after Will Boyde gets the ball cleanly out at the base of the scrum. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Benetton win possession and get themselves back into Scarlets territory in the closing seconds but James Davies does what he does best winning a turnover. The ball is passed back and Steff Evans kicks off the park.
Half time: Benetton 0 Scarlets 24
Benetton think they’ve secured the dream start to the second half as they charge down a Scarlets kick and get a hand to the ball across the whitewash. Scrum half Davies had managed to scramble his way to it first however. Scarlets get a clearance kick from their own 22.
It’s not long before Scarlets win a penalty in Benetton’s half. Dan Jones kicks us to the corner and a line out won by Beirne leads to a try for Davies in the other corner. The ball is worked along the line before Davies adds the fourth bonus point try. Halfpenny adds the conversion.
Play loses shape in the second half after Scarlets secure their fourth and bonus point try. Benetton keep themselves in the fight but wait until the final minutes of the game to secure their first points in the game. The homeside manage to cross for two tries in the closing minutes bringing the final score to 12-31.
Gareth Davies is named man of the match and the Scarlets have ensured that they remain alive in Europe heading into round 5 away from home against Bath.
Final score: Benetton 12 Scarlets 31