IN A high-intensity game at The Rec, Scarlets dug deep to claim a thrilling Champions Cup victory over Bath Rugby.
Throughout a tense Pool A encounter, there was little between the two sides with Scarlets scoring a try in each half through scrum-halves Gareth Davies – on his 200th appearance – and Kieran Hardy.
Both teams had their chances to win but in the end, the spoils and the famous old ragdoll headed to West Wales.
Bath got on the board first with Ben Spencer striking home shot from the kicking tee.
While Bath applied early pressure, the Scarlets broke the shackles in spectacular fashion.
Leigh Halfpenny broke the defensive line to offload to Scarlets skipper Steff Evans. The winger broke through the cover defence to link with scrum-half Gareth Davies on the inside line.
The Wales scrum-half still had work to do but jinked past the final defender to cross near the posts. Halfpenny added the extras, and shortly afterwards he missed a long-range effort to put the Scarlets further ahead.
The Scarlets lost Wales’ international forwards Jake Ball and Samson Lee to head injury assessments. Morgan Jones and Javan Sebastian replaced the duo.
It took 18 minutes of continuous pressure and knocking on the door of the Scarlets’ try-line before the hosts retook the lead.
A lovely piece of interplay began from No. 8, Zach Mercer. The ball was smartly shipped in contact before Sam Underhill found Ruaridh McConnochie, who dotted down in the corner. Spencer missed the conversion.
Bath then earned a scrum penalty after several warnings to the Scarlets’ front row. Spencer slotted home the three points to give Bath a four-point lead.
On 32 minutes the Welsh region got to within a point of Bath Rugby with a Halfpenny penalty. Just three minutes later, Spencer re-established the four-point gap as the hosts were awarded a penalty, which the nine converted with ease.
14-10 down at the break, the Scarlets would’ve been disappointed at the length of time they spent on the back foot and getting sucked into a physical confrontation with the rugged home eight.
It was only six minutes into the second period when the hosts were pinged for offside, allowing. Halfpenny to strike his penalty through the uprights from close range.
Bath piled the pressure on Scarlets with a lot of possession and territory, but they were unable to make that pressure pay off until the 53rd minute.
The hosts got their reward through Will Stuart, who crashed over to score in his first appearance of the season for the Blue, Black and White.
Josh Macleod replaced Jac Morgan, who enjoyed another outstanding game, and made an immediate impact with a turnover, while the experience of Jon Davies also proved crucial off the bench.
Scarlets kept plugging away and saw their hard work rewarded on 64 minutes.
Dan Jones combined with Rob Evans, who produced a sublime off-load to put Hardy away under the posts for a score converted by Halfpenny.
With one point in it, both sides had chances.
Hardy just failed to find Evans on his outside with the line beckoning, while Bath’s route-one approach came against a brick-wall defence.
A Halfpenny penalty gave the Scarlets a four-point cushion going into the final minutes, but Bath stole the kick-off before pounding away at the visitors’ line.
In the 78th minute, Bath crossed the whitewash, only to have the ball held up over the line following a crunching effort from Leigh Halfpenny to deny the home team a score.
But a try would be enough for the hosts to take the game.
As the clock struck red, Bath continued to pile on the pressure with continuous and relentless forward phases. As Spencer stretched his arm out towards the line, Morgan Jones steamed into the tackle.
It was the last play of the game.
With hearts in their mouths, Scarlets players waited for the TMO’s decision and reacted joyfully when the TMO ruled out the last gasp effort.
Glenn Delaney lauded the incredible never-say-die defensive effort that saw the Scarlets hang on for an outstanding 23-19 Heineken Champions Cup win over Bath at The Rec.
“That match had something for everyone didn’t it?” said a relieved Delaney afterwards.
“We had a chance to score just before those final minutes and then the commitment and effort at the end were massive. We were under so much pressure. That was about character. For me, it was epitomised by Gareth Davies. “The boys wanted to play for him on his 200th and it was really special the way they finished it off to get the job done for him.”
Reflecting on the tense end to the game, Glenn Delaney said: “Those final minutes were all about commitment and heart. There were bits about the defence in the first half I wasn’t so happy with, I was frustrated we weren’t as aggressive as we would have liked, but that character comes through in the big moments. These are big-game players. We are learning as a group what it is like to be in this contest and that was a big European game for us.
“It is a big step forward, we will enjoy it and get ready for Toulon next week.”
Delaney added: “In the second half I thought we moved the ball a little wider on the edge. We never go that going in the first half and we were pretty harsh on ourselves at half-time. That try in the middle of the field, Rob Evans’s pass to put Kieran away was outstanding. That is the game we wanted to play. We wanted to move Bath around.
“We knew we couldn’t go at Bath square-on because they are big and physical and are good players. We had to move them around, we saw a bit of the Scarlets way coming out and the DNA of the club, the boys are happy to be taking the ragdoll home.”
Burry Port hold off Milford to maintain unbeaten record
BURRY PORT secured their fourth win in as many games on Saturday (Jan 22) as they beat Milford Haven 24-17 at The Observatory.
It was a frantic first half which saw Burry Port take a 24-12 lead into the break and despite a second half try from the home side, the Blacks were able to hang on for the win.
Tries for the Blacks came from Rich Parker, Josh Evans, Dylan Evans and Tom Rees.
Steff Powell was successful with two of four conversion attempts.
Milford had one try from Jamie Lewis and Dan McClelland with one conversion giving the hosts some hope of a second half comeback.
Zac France-Miller pulled an unconverted try back for the Mariners but they were unable to find another score despite their efforts.
The Blacks held on and their bonus-point win moves them up to fifth place in the League 2 West table and maintains their 100% record.
The Mariners earned a bonus point for their efforts which moves them up to third from bottom in the table.
On Saturday, January 29, Burry Port host Loughor while Milford Haven are away to Kidwelly.
Llanelli Snooker League: Convincing win for Burry Port Legion
BURRY PORT Legion notched a convincing 6-1 victory in the Llanelli Snooker first division against visiting Pontyberem Workmens.
Following frame wins from Rob Davies, Richard Nurse, Garnet Lane, Keri Phillips and James White (40 break); just Emyr Bowen’s frame averted the whitewash.
Snooker World Whites were 5-2 winners against Llanelli Cons, after Jamie Gimblett, Callum Jackson, Sam Hinton and Ben Thomas had won.
Dai Roberts and Ashley Edwards claimed frames for Matchroom Whites in a 5-2 reversal against Llanesco, for whom Luke Lloyd, Peter Shoulder, Dale Bohn and Chris Lloyd were on song.
Nicky Walters, Mark Hughes and J.Shields were on top for Upper Tumble Blues who saw off a man-short Ponthenri Social 5-2; Nigel Lewis and Mark Regola replied.
Burry Port Reading Room Blues, for whom Adrian Gower, Steve Greaney and Neil Roberts (25) won, needed the aggregate to edge a 4-3 victory at Morfa, whose winning trio were Rob Hughes, Andrew Hatto and Gavin Lewis.
Elsewhere, Pontyberem Workmens’ also required the extra point to nick a 4-3 success against Trimsaran, after Keri Davies (35 clearance break), Kevin Sullivan and Mike Footman had won; Lewis Lloyd, Jamie Tudor and Wayne Thomas won for Trim.
Cross Hands B overcame Gorseinon Workmens’ 4-3, following wins from Adrian Phillips, Mal Jones and Paul Martin; for the Brighton Road side, Mike Davies, Johnny Wilcox and Jordan Davies were on the ball.
In Division 2, Jeff Howells, Scott Bunford, Elwyn Williams and Adam Rees gave Cross Hands A a 5-2 win at Pontarddulais Cons B; Bont’s frame winners were Mark Aberstraw (40 break) and Rob Davey.
Huw Morgan, Howard Wood, Steve Pearson and Brian Jenn earned the bragging rights for Llandybie Social B in the village derby against Llandybie RFC, whose winning duo were Shane Wright (22 clearance) and Joshua Jordan.
Upper Tumble Reds suffered a 7-0 thumping away at the Gremlin Club; for the latter, Ray Barney (33 clearance), Alex Jenson (25), Ryan Burt, Kevin Gronow, Lee Collins and Gavin Stollery were all on top.
Meanwhile, J.Townsend’s frame win avoided the dreaded brush as Bryn & Trallwm crashed 6-1 at the hands of Snooker World Blues; for the Ammanford cuemen, Linden Cox, C.Waters, A.Jones, Callum Fuge and S.Rees all won.
New Lodge edged home 4-3 against Matchroom Blacks, courtesy of Roy Morgan, Andrew John and Gary Williams; Thomas Williams, James Anthony and Adrian Davies hit back for the visitors.
Paul Landek and James Varney were CGMD ‘s winning pair as the Fishermens’ went down 5-2 on their trip to Tycroes RFC; for the rugby club, Marc Walters, Steve Ruck, Arwyn Rees and Ffion Jones claimed the points.
In Cup news, Gremlins defeated New Lodge 4-3, while Reading Room Reds knocked out Bryn. Matchroom Reds beat Burry Port Legion 4-3, whereas Upper Tumble Social went out 4-1 at the hands of Matchroom Whites.
Weakened Reds beaten by Major
WITH a severely-weakened side at their disposal for the daunting trip to their second-placed opponents, the Llanelli Town management team of Lee John and Dylan Blain could be excused for expecting the worst, but a battling first-half performance kept the home side at bay with the contest scoreless at the interval, before events took a downward turn after the restart.
The hosts took the lead within a minute, while two further goals in a two minute spell midway through the second half consigned their opponents to defeat, although credit is due to the overall performance from players making their debuts together with recruits from the youth ranks by the Reds.
Jake Thomas and Michael Murphy brought in during the transfer window both started, but missing from the squad were Chris and Rob Thomas, Miles John, Callum Saunders and James Loveridge, with Dylan Williams, Owain Phillips-Taylor and Ryan Bevan in the eleven, while on the bench were Jack Hughes, Thomas Davies, Fraser Finlay and Ben Bowler-Edwards, all from the academy.
The first half was an even affair, with both sides sharing possession but not achieving much in the way of scoring opportunities, with the best chance falling to home captain Cullen Kinsella following a Connor Goldsworthy corner, but he lifted his finish over the top
Another flag kick for the hosts to the far post was directed back into the middle and met by Kris Evans, but his header was wide from a promising position.
Morgan Weaver did well to block a potentially dangerous cross for a corner when the home side threatened, before the Reds` first chance of the half fell to Callum Bateman who tried his luck from long range and was not far off target.
They then won a corner when a Louis Gerrard free kick rebounded off the wall, and when Bateman sent it over home keeper, Jack Lansdown, was forced to push over the header from Weaver.
The visitors were keeping the home side fully occupied without offering too much in the way of a goal threat, although the same applied at the other end with Exauce Dimonekene relatively untroubled.
He was, however, thankful for the intervention of Weaver when he failed to cut out a cross, with the defender heading the ball off the line.
Scoreless at half time and with the contest evenly poised, it burst into life within a minute of the restart when following a corner to the hosts, the ball pin-balled in the box before eventually being met by Goldsworthy who struck a first time finish past an unsighted Dimonekene.
This success lifted the home side, and they were the more dominant force for much of the second period with the Reds living off scraps, and a brace of goals within a two minute period effectively killed off any hopes of a comeback.
On 64 minutes, Josh Jones was played through the middle before finishing decisively past an exposed Dimonekene, and just two minutes later Kinsella found himself in space on the edge of the box before finding the bottom corner to put the result beyond doubt.
The hosts played out the remainder of the match without too much trouble with their opponents unable to muster much in the way of a viable goal threat, and it ended with the Reds hoping for better fortune when they host Undy at Stebonheath next Friday, kick off 7.30pm.
Sport3 days ago
Behind the Scenes with West Wales Raiders & Llanelli Town AFC CEO Peter Tiffin
Sport1 week ago
Saunders stars as Llangennech beat Gowerton
Health2 weeks ago
Omicron peak could come in ‘the next 10 to 14 days’ in Wales
News2 weeks ago
Llanelli Police Station to temporarily close for improvement work
Health2 weeks ago
Public Health Wales apology over lack of clarity on smear test changes
Education2 weeks ago
£18m to support children and young people with additional learning needs
Sport2 weeks ago
Llanelli Town announce triple signing
Health2 weeks ago
Most stupid and inappropriate calls to the Welsh Ambulance Service revealed