Planet Rugby

Scarlets slay the Dragons

31st December 2009 15:55

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SKY_MOBILE Rhys Priestland Scarlets Oct 09

Key try and penalty: Priestland

The Scarlets ended 2009 with their hopes of Heineken Cup qualification still very much alive after they edged out the Dragons 14-9 on Thursday.

It was by no means a classic in Llanelli but Rhys Priestland's try and fine penalty keeps them in the mix for making next term's European top table.

However, the Scarlets and also Wales will now be sweating after fly-half Stephen Jones was forced from the field in the 54th minute complaining of soreness on the AC joint of his right shoulder.

Both teams were short of a number of injured players. The home side were missing seven including Wales international Dan Lydiate, while the Scarlets were shorn of eight players.

And both regions were desperate to kick the losing habit, with the Dragons having suffered three-straight losses, including a severe second-half beating at Cardiff Blues on Sunday, while the Scarlets had not won since the LV=Cup triumph over Worcester on November 14.

The Dragons led 9-8 at the interval as they sought a win to move them up to third in the table.

But Scarlets, who are languishing one place off the bottom, had most of the territorial advantage during the first period, grabbing the only try of the match, although they should have added another two.

Full-back Rhys Priestland was put over for that touchdown after centre Jonathan Davies, who was dynamic in midfield attack, went past opposite number Matthew Watkins and put Priestland in the clear.

The home side relied on the boot of outside-half Shaun Connor who grabbed an early drop goal from in front of the Scarlets' posts before landing two penalties, Jones adding one of his own for the visitors.

Back rows Gavin Thomas and Lewis Evans were also unseen Dragons heroes as they cleared up a lot of loose ball on the ground.

Jones booted another penalty after the break but missed a 35 metre effort in front of the posts and was replaced by Dan Evans immediately to have his shoulder iced on the bench.

As both coaches rang the changes, the Dragons held the upper territorial hand although they could not find a score, with Connor missing a long-range penalty just after the hour.

And, when Priestland knocked over a touchline penalty with five minutes left, the home side needed a converted try if they were to claim the win.

They tried desperately and battered away in the Scarlets' 22 for an extraordinary 35 phases of play, lasting through nine minutes of injury time, with back-row replacement Grant Webb and prop Pat Palmer unable to ground the ball as the Dragons were held up over the line with the final play of the match.

The scorers:

For Dragons:
Pen: Connor 2
Drop: Connor

For Scarlets:
Tries:
Priestland
Pen: Jones 2, Priestland

Dragons: 15 Jason Tovey, 14 Aled Brew, 13 Tom Riley, 12 Matthew Watkins, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Shaun Connor, 9 Danny Lee, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Hoani Macdonald, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Rob Sidoli, 3 Pat Palmer, 2 Tom Willis (c), 1 Hugh Gustafson.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Ali McKenzie, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Grant Webb, 20 Martyn Thomas, 21 Will Harries, 22 Gareth Williams.

Scarlets: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Lee Williams, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 David Lyons (c), 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Rob McCusker, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Corsi, 17 Emyr Phillips, 18 Damian Welch, 19 Richie Pugh, 20 Daniel Evans, 21 Gareth Maule, 22 Rob Higgitt.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Bodilly (Wales), Simon Harris (Wales)
TMO: Tony Rowlands (Wales)

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