Scarlets' late show down Benetton
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Scarlets kept their hopes of reaching the Champions Cup knockout stages with a 33-28 victory over Benetton Treviso in a tumultuous affair at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Gareth Davies dotted down twice in the opening six minutes, while Tadhg Beirne, Steff Evans and Paul Asquith also joined the scoresheet as Scarlets collected a bonus-point victory to move within one point of Pool Five leaders Bath Rugby and RC Toulon, who lock horns later on Saturday.
Wales international Davies got the hosts off to a flying start in Llanelli with a brace of tries in three minutes, both converted by Leigh Halfpenny to give them an early 14-point advantage, only for Benetton Treviso No.8 Robert Barbieri to open the visitors tally to halve the deficit in an action-packed opening quarter.
Scarlets' advantage was enhanced on 24 minutes when flank Francesco Minto was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle, reducing Benetton Treviso to 14 men for the remainder - and the hosts made it pay as flanker Bernie crossed in a third home try and Halfpenny restored the 14-point cushion.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Treviso were boosted before the break as fullback Jayden Hayward dotted down a second try and Tommaso Allan's conversion reduced the gap back to seven and the visitors were level 16 minutes into the second half as winger Angelo Esposito raced in a third try.
Against the run of play, Federico Ruzza added a bonus-point score for Benetton Treviso, who took a seven-point lead with just nine minutes to play, which they could be forgiven for thinking would be enough to see them home.
However, Scarlets - roared on by a partisan home crowd - battled to the end with wing Evans and centre Asquith securing a late victory in a fiercely contested encounter, which will all be repeated again next weekend.
Tries: G Davies 2, Beirne, S Evans, Asquith
Cons: Halfpenny 3, Patchell
For Benetton Rugby:
Tries: Barbieri, Hayward, Esposito, Ruzza
Cons: Allan 4
Yellow Card: James Davies (Scarlets)
Red Card: Francesco Minto (Benetton)
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Paul Asquith, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Steff Hughes, 23 Tom Prydie
Benetton Rugby: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Seb Negri Da Oleggio, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Alberto de Marchi, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Whetu Douglas, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Luca Morisi
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Mathieu Noirot (France)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)