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Clinical Scarlets put Leinster to the sword

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SCARLETS 23
LEINSTER 13

THE SCARLETS maintained their unbeaten record at Parc y Scarlets in style with a stunning win over reigning Pro12 champions and three-time European champions Leinster. In the process they closed the gap on sixth place Connaught to just three points, with just five games remaining in the race for automatic qualification for next year’s Champions Cup, as the Irish side were controversial last gasp losers at Cardiff Arms Park on the previous night.

An entertaining first half saw some classy backline play from both sides, with former All Black Regan King, making his 100th league appearance for the Scarlets, impressing with his slight of hand and creative vision and Leinsters’ own Kiwi Ben Ta’o showing his power and pace to break the home sides defensive line on more than one occasion.

King wasn’t alone in producing a display of real class for the Scarlets. Back rowers John Barclay and James Davies also put in big performances. Experienced Scotland international Barclay showed his powerful running and guile at the turnover whilst 24 year old Davies, younger sibling of current international and former Scarlet Jonathan Davies, put in a man of the match display. Davies is enjoying his breakthrough season on the regional stage and if he can produce more performances like this one, Warren Gatland will be watching with keen eyes.

The Scarlets took the lead as Steven Shingler notched a penalty following good running from Wales centre Scott Williams, who was released from international duty for the game. This lead didn’t last for long after a needless penalty was given away near halfway by the home side. Flyhalf Gopperth did the honours, striking the ball to touch to give Leinster a line-out opportunity on the Scarlets 22. A training ground move was enough to undo the otherwise water tight Scarlets defence as hooker Sean Cronin received the ball from Mike McCarthy and drove around the back of the line-out. Quickly recycled ball created space for the lethal Ta’o who slid inside Scott Williams and brushed off the desperate last-ditch tackle of Parkes to score his first try for the club. Gopperth added the extras and also notched a penalty to give the visitors a 10-3 lead.

On the 30 minute mark the Scarlets turned on the style as Regan King unlocked the Leinster backline and sent marauding back-row Barclay into the corner for the the first Scarlets score. Although Shingler couldn’t add the extras from the touchline, the home side went in at half time just 2 points behind in what had been an enthralling forty minutes.

The second half began with another burst from powerhouse centre Ben Ta’o, but sensing a second try he was stopped in his tracks by a superb covering tackle from the ever-present James Davies. Barclay was able to turnover possession and after a number of phases the Scarlets produced the try of the game. King again was the creator, drawing South African fullback Zane Kirchner to put Jordan Williams in under the posts. Shingler added the easy extras and the Scarlets had a lead they never looked like relinquishing even when Leinster added a penalty to bring the score to 15-13.

The Scarlets put the game to bed as Barclay and Davies combined again to create the games final try. Barclay tackled and Davies turned over to give replacement back-row Rory Pitman the chance to brush off Gopperth and crash over. The try went unconverted but Priestland made amends by putting the game beyond doubt with a late penalty to give the Scarlets a well deserved and crucial home win, to the delight of man of the match James Davies.

“It was a massive win for us. We talked about it all week; this block of four against Irish teams has been tough. We looked at this one as probably one of the biggest – at home and wanting to keep our unbeaten record.”

Davies went on to say: “The defence was outstanding. The boys worked tremendously hard and it all came down to good attitude. We’re so pleased with the win.”

Scarlets return to Guinness Pro12 action on Saturday March 28 as they take on Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets, kick-off 2.40pm.

Teams:

SCARLETS: Jordan Williams; Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes; Steven Shingler, Aled Davies; Phil John, Ken Owens (capt), Peter Edwards, George Earle, Johan Snyman, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, John Barclay.

REPLACEMENTS: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne, Rory Pitman, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Adam Warren

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Fergus McFadden; Ben Te’o; Gordon D’Arcy; Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth; Eoin Reddan: Cian Healy; Sean Cronin; Martin Moore; Mike McCarthy; Kane Douglas; Rhys Ruddock; Dominic Ryan; Jack Conan.

REPLACEMENTS: Michael Bent; Richardt Strauss; Tadhg Furlong; Tom Denton; Isaac Boss; Noel Reid; Dave Kearney.

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Community

Scarlets’ grassroots clubs show community spirit in delivering vital food packages

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Scarlets community clubs have been working together to help deliver vital food packages across the region.


Volunteers from grassroots clubs and WRU girls hubs across Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have been helping take the food packages to vulnerable members of society who are self-isolating during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The clubs have teamed up with the Scarlets Community Foundation — the charity arm of the Scarlets — and Carmarthen-based food wholesaler Castell Howell, while Scarlets players Osian Knott, Kieran Hardy, Ryan Conbeer and Jac Morgan have also lent their hand to the operation.


More than 300 packages were due to be delivered on Monday and Tuesday (April 6 & April 7), with the initiative highlighting that even without any action on the field, rugby clubs remain at the heart of their community.
Scarlets Community Foundation manager Caroline Newman said:  “We have been overwhelmed with the support that we have received from local clubs, the number of people prepared to volunteer to help the most vulnerable in our communities has been touching.


“People’s reasons for requesting packs have often been heart-wrenching and it really has made us appreciate what we have.


“The foundation has worked closely with Castell Howell to make sure the packages are ready to go to those whose need is greatest, managing to turn things around pretty quickly and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen, our funder, Castell Howell, all the clubs, our helpline volunteer and the foundation members.
“Great teamwork which has made me proud to be part of the fantastic community that rugby creates.”

Here are the rugby clubs and WRU girls rugby hubs taking part in the initiative

Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Amman Utd, Ammanford, Burry Port, Betws, Bynea, Cardigan, Cefneithin, Felinfoel, Fishguard & Goodwick, Furnace Utd, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandybie, Llanelli Wanderers, Llangennech, Llangwm, Merched Mynydd Mawr, Milford Haven, Narberth, New Dock Stars, Newcastle Emlyn, Neyland, Penybanc, Pontyates, St Clears, Stradey Sospans, Tenby Utd, Tumble, Tycroes, Whitland, Yr Hendy.

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Sport

Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Sport

Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April  4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.  

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance. 

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate. 

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