Sports

Scarlets 34-28 Benetton: Scott Williams inspires bonus point victory as Dwayne Peel’s side return to winning ways

The Scarlets got back to winning ways on Friday night, beating Benetton 34-28 in an entertaining contest in Llanelli.

The opening 15 minutes was cagey with both teams having probing attacks and feeling each other out.

But then the Scarlets landed a quick one-two as the game approached the midway point in the first half.

Dane Blacker sniped into the 22 to put the Scarlets on the front foot before the big men took over with Blade Thomson making good yards close to the line. And it was Rob Evans, on his 150th appearance, who barged his way over with his second carry of the move. Dan Jones converted.

Shortly after the restart, Steff Evans, Aaron Shingler and Sam Lousi threw consecutive offloads before Scott Williams, who was sublime on the night, stepped off his right and powered through a gap. He had scrum-half Blacker on his inside, who finished off a wonderful try. Jones added the extras again.

Benetton were game, though, and forced the Scarlets to defend desperately at times. They eventually cracked around the half hour mark when Dewaldt Duvenage sniped and played a one-two with Monty Ioane to score a neat try.

Rhyno Smith’s conversion meant the score was 14-7 at the break.

Benetton struck four minutes into the half when loose-head Thomas Gallo picked from the base of a ruck outside the 22 and barged his way through Ioan Nicholas on the way to the line. Smith’s conversion levelled the scores.

But the Scarlets settled and got themselves back in front through a penalty from fly-half Jones.

The hosts extended their lead in the 55th minute. Wing Evans had a try ruled out before hooker Marc Jones was carried over the line by a powerful driving maul. Jones converted to make it a 10-point game.

But the lead was soon cut when Gallo crossed for his second from close range three minutes later. A try that, in truth, was a little too straightforward.

Then came a moment of real brilliance from Scarlets centre Williams, who gathered a loose ball with one hand, waved it in Ignacio Brex’s face before stepping his man and breaking in behind. Blacker was once again on hand to receive the scoring pass and replacement Angus O’Brien knocked over the conversion and then added a penalty soon after.

But Tommaso Menoncello picked off the replacement fly-half’s pass with eight minutes remaining to race under the sticks and Smith made it a six-point game. The Italian’s had two attacking opportunities in the closing stages but the Scarlets held on for a much-needed victory after heavy defeats to Munster and Leinster in the last two weeks.

Scarlets: Ioan Nicholas, Ryan Conbeer, Steff Hughes, Scott Williams (CAPT), Steff Evans, Dan Jones, Dane Blacker, Rob Evans, Marc Jones, Samson Lee, Sam Lousi, Jac Price, Aaron Shingler, Shaun Evans, Blade Thomson.

Reps: Daf Hughes, Phil Price, Javan Sebastian, Lloyd Ashley, Iestyn Rees, Luke Davies, Angus O’Brien, Tom Rogers

Benetton: Andries Coetzee, Tommaso Menoncello, Ignacio Brex, Marco Zanon, Monty Ioane, Rhyno Smith, Dewaldt Duvenage (CAPT), Thomas Gallo, Hame Faiva, Tiziano Pasquali, Irné Herbst, Carl Wegner, Giovanni Pettinelli, Sebastian Negri, Abraham Steyn

Reps : Giacomo Nicotera, Cherif Traore, Ivan Nemer, Federico Ruzza, Lorenzo Cannone, Callum Braley, Leonardo Marin, Luca Morisi

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