Scarlets ease past Benetton
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Dreams of the European Rugby Champions Cup knockout stages remain alive for Scarlets following a comfortable 31-12 bonus-point victory against Benetton Rugby at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Gareth Davies collected a brace of tries, with fellow backs Johnny McNicholl and Paul Asquith joining him on the scoresheet as Scarlets moved top of Pool Five, level on points with Toulon, temporarily at least, with the French giants taking on Bath Rugby in Saturday's late kick-off.
It was fullback Leigh Halfpenny who opened the scoring account for Scarlets with a penalty kick, before winger McNicholl flew over in the 13th minute for the Welsh region.
Things would go from bad to worse for Benetton as prop Federico Zani was sent to the sin bin and Scarlets wasted no time in making their numerical advantage pay, with centre Asquith adding a second try three minutes later.
Davies then sniped his first before the interval to give Scarlets a 24-0 lead and the Wales international doubled his tally shortly after the restart as Benetton were again reduced to 14 men with winger Angelo Esposito this time yellow carded.
Benetton's consolation came two minutes from time as winger Monty Ioane claimed a brace of tries in the space of three minutes, but it was Scarlets who claimed the honours and revived their hopes of reaching the European Rugby Champions Cup quarterfinals with an impressive win.
Tries: Ioane 2
Tries: McNicholl, Asquith, G Davies 2
Cons: Halfpenny 4
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Seb Negri Da Oleggio, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Marco Barbini, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Nacho Brex.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Paul Asquith, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Joshua Helps, 20 Joshua Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Hadleigh Parkes, 23 Steff Hughes.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Francois Bouzac (France)
TMO: Brian MacNiece (Ireland)