SCARLETS had to withstand late pressure from Guinness Pro14 Champions Leinster on Saturday (Sept 8), as they earned their first win of the season at Parc Y Scarlets.
The men in Red were boosted by the returns of a number of injured internationals for the mammoth clash including Leigh Halfpenny, Jake Ball, Hadleigh Parkes and Samson Lee.
Tries from captain Ken Owens and Gareth Davies as well as conversions and three Leigh Halfpenny penalties was enough to secure an all-important second round victory for the Scarlets.
Scarlets put the pressure on Leinster’s line early on with flanker Josh Murphy shown a yellow card after only six minutes of play. Despite the man advantage they were unable to put points on the board.
Scarlets retained possession and built through the phases again before Hadleigh Parkes made a sweet break into Leinster’s 22 before passing the ball back inside to Gareth Davies who crosses the whitewash. He touched down but the TMO was called for confirmation and unfortunately it was deemed that the ball had been knocked on.
It wasn’t long before Scarlets were back on the attack and they had a scrum inside Leinster’s 22 which was picked out and Captain Ken Owens claimed the try with Halfpenny adding the extras.
Ioan Nicholas then replaced Johnny McNicholl who went down in the earlier encounter as the try was scored.
Minutes later Scarlets were penalised in their own half for an infringement at the line out. Leinster’s Ross Byrne is offered a penalty opportunity but his kick was wide of the mark keeping Scarlets seven points ahead.
Leinster then brought themselves back into the game as winger Fergus McFadden crossed in the far corner for Leinster’s first try of the evening with Byrne adding the conversion.
With five minutes of the first half left, Halfpenny put the Scarlets ahead with a penalty.
Leinster finished the half the stronger and thought they had scored but Samson Lee was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul on review by the TMO.
They pushed forward and from a scrum Leinster were able to take advantage of the extra space to find James Lowe who crossed in the corner before Byrne added the extras.
That gave the Irish side a 14-10 lead at the break but despite still being a man down, it was the Scarlets who got the first score of the second half. Leinster were penalised for a knock on and Halfpenny added the conversion.
Leinster looked to respond and were given a chance to increase their lead with a penalty but Byrne missed and the score stayed the same.
Scarlets pushed forward on the hour mark and won a penalty and Jones sent the ball into touch. The home side came close to going over but were kept out until a penalty gave Halfpenny the chance to put them back into the lead. He made no mistake and the Scarlets were ahead.
The home side then had to defend well as Leinster came forward but they kept them out and won the ball back after an error.
Scarlets continued to push forward and Hadleigh Parkes burst through a gap and made an excellent offload to Gareth Davies who touched down under the posts giving Halfpenny an easy conversion.
Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock reduced the gap with six minutes to go and Byrne then added the extras to set up an exciting end with the score at 23-21.
The visitors looked for a way through but Scarlets defended well once more and also kept their discipline, not giving anything away.
Scarlets held on for an excellent win giving them a good confidence boost going into their next fixture at home against Bennetton on Saturday (Sept 15), kick off 5:15pm.