Scarlets boost qualification hopes with dominant win

Date published: January 13 2018

The Scarlets produced a magnificent display to give themselves an excellent chance of qualifying for the Champions Cup quarter-finals following a 35-17 triumph over Bath.

Both teams warmed up for this clash with comfortable wins, but it was the Welsh region, who have now secured six successive victories, that dominated the first half.

They were superb and the hosts could not cope with their intensity and accuracy in open play. Wayne Pivac’s side deservedly scored three first half tries via Tadhg Beirne, Paul Asquith and Hadleigh Parkes, while Dan Jones added seven points from the tee.

Scott Williams then completed the bonus-point before Matt Banahan gave the home team hope. Bath were ultimately outplayed, however, and Jones sealed the victory with two penalties, despite Zach Mercer’s late consolation.

Although the Scarlets duly dominated, the West Countrymen had started brightly and Anthony Watson was once again their most potent threat from broken field.

That positive opening failed to last, though, and when the visitors got the ball they displayed their ability in the first half.

Their off-loading game came to the fore and the hosts simply failed to control the pace and tempo that the Welsh region played at.

Any loose kick was pounced upon and, from a Chris Cook up and under, Rhys Patchell saw his chance to counter-attack.

Pivac’s men displayed outstanding patience and Beirne brilliantly finished off a wonderful move, stepping Watson and touching down.

Bath did get the next score after forcing John Barclay into cynically infringing when Banahan powered towards the line, allowing Burns – on for the injured Rhys Priestland – to reduce the arrears.

Despite being down to 14 men, the Scarlets were unyielding and another poor clearance from the hosts resulted in a second try as Parkes’ excellently weighted pass saw Asquith cross the whitewash unopposed.

Todd Blackadder’s men were shell-shocked and the battle of the two scrum-halves perfectly demonstrated the contrast in performance.

Gareth Davies was magnificent throughout and his break, following a hand-off on opposite number Cook, gave Parkes a simple run-in. Jones kicked the conversion and then added a penalty as the Scarlets went into the interval 22-3 in front.

Blackadder needed a response from his charges but it failed to materialise and a neat Patchell grubber through to Williams saw the visitors seal the bonus-point.

Banahan’s brilliant finish did give Bath a semblance of hope, but Jones’ three-pointer with 12 minutes remaining effectively ended the match as a contest.

To the West Countrymen’s credit, they kept going and were rewarded through Mercer’s score, but the Welsh region justifiably had the final word when their stand-off kicked a penalty.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Banahan, Mercer
Cons: Burns 2
Pen: Burns

For Scarlets:
Tries: Beirne, Asquith, Parkes, Williams
Cons: Jones 3
Pens: Jones 3
Yellow Card: Barclay

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Matt Garvey (c), 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 James Phillips, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 James Wilson

Scarlets: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Will Boyde

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)