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Scarlets off the mark against Brive

10th October 2009 17:05

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Stephen Jones Scarlets HEC

Stephen Jones: Steered the ship home

The Scarlets made a winning start to the Heineken Cup with a 24-12 victory over a limited Brive side on Saturday at Parc y Scarlets.

The Welsh region were sent to the morale-boosting win with tries at the end of each half by wing Lee Williams and replacement prop Rhys Thomas.

Stephen Jones supplied 11 points with the boot, and there was also a long-range penalty for replacement full-back Rhys Priestland. Brive's points came from Andy Goode, with three penalties, and one for Luciano Orquera.

The Scarlets had lost all their four previous Magners League games, including a 45-24 reversal against Ulster in Belfast last week.

It was hardly the result Brive would have wanted, especially because it was their first appearance in the tournament for 11 years.

The Scarlets went in at half-time clutching a well-deserved 11-9 interval lead, having had the bulk of possession and territory.

But they went into the lead for the first time only in the final minute with a well-worked try for Williams, put over after incisive running from Stephen Jones and Sean Lamont, who was playing in the centre rather than wing.

Until that moment, Brive had looked as if they would lead at half-time - having held a 9-6 advantage with three penalties to two.

Goode kicked all three of his chances.

Stephen Jones only find the target with only two of his four attempts, but his second penalty took him past 2,500 points for the region.

The Scarlets should have been further ahead at the break. Twice they failed to exploit four-to-two overlaps, and then Jonathan Davies was stopped in his tracks by a crunching tackle from former Scarlet Alix Popham.

It proved a key moment for both sides as Popham was carried off with an elbow injury and Davies limped off three minutes later.

The second half was very similar to the first.

The Scarlets dominated for large periods but could not shake off Brive until the final minutes.

Jones put his side further ahead with a 53rd-minute penalty, a score that was cancelled out with a long-range effort by Orquera - who had replaced Goode - two minutes later.

The Scarlets were given more breathing space with Priestland's penalty from inside his own half as the region led 17-12 after 68 minutes.

The result of the game had looked certain when replacement flanker Richie Pugh picked up a loose ball 40 metres out, but the celebrations turned to frustration after the referee ruled out the score for an offside.

Ironically the Scarlets' winning score came from a missed Jones penalty. The ball ricocheted off the post, before Thomas crashed over for the try two minutes from time.

The scorers:

For the Scarlets:
Tries: Williams, Thomas
Con: Jones
Pens: Jones 3, Priestland

For Brive:
Pens: Goode 3, Orquera

Scarlets: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Lee Williams, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Mark Jones (c), 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 David Lyons, 7 Dafydd Jones, 6 Simon Easterby, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Lou Reed 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Phil John, 18 Rhys Thomas, 19 Vernon Cooper, 20 Richie Pugh, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Rob Higgitt.

Brive: 15 Fabrice Estebanez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Lachlan Mackay, 11 Viliame Waqaseduadua, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Antoine Claassen, 7 Vincent Forgues, 6 Alix Popham, 5 Arnaud Mela, 4 Christian Short, 3 Jonathan Garcia, 2 Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux, 1 Davit Kinchagishvili.
Replacements: 16 Steve Thompson, 17 Petrisor Toderasc, 18 Retief Uys, 19 Fabien Domingo, 20 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Ronnie Cooke, 23 Pat Barnard.

Referee: Dave Pearson

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