Patchell helps Scarlets edge derby
MATCH REPORT: Rhys Patchell’s try against his former club saw reigning Pro14 champions Scarlets sign off a successful 2017 with 14-11 victory over Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues.
The flyhalf jinked his way over the try line shortly after the break, with the Conference B leaders then holding on to their advantage to make it just one defeat in their last six matches in all competitions.
The Blues, who saw Tomos Williams’ second-half try chalked off by the TMO, had led at the break thanks to two Gareth Anscombe penalties after tries apiece for Tom Prydie and Ellis Jenkins.
Led out by Taufa’ao Filise on his 250th appearance, they started brightly and a powerful drive from their pack in their own half set them on the way to the opening points of the game.
The hosts managed to retain possession up field after a strong carry by George Earle and, when Scarlets were pinged for a ruck offence, Anscombe slotted over his penalty on seven minutes.
It was then the turn of Scarlets to demonstrate their strength at the set piece. Gareth Davies was the architect, intelligently breaking off from a wheeled scrum to charge towards the line before offloading to winger Prydie to dot down on 14 minutes. Leigh Halfpenny converted for 7-3.
The Cardiff Arms Park crowd did not have to wait long for a second try and it was a popular scorer in the form of flanker Jenkins, making his first appearance of the season following a hamstring injury.
Ten minutes after coming on for Nick Williams who headed off for a head injury assessment, Jenkins was on hand to dive over from close range after a powerful line-out drive once more from the Blues. Anscombe dragged his conversion wide, leaving the Blues ahead by a single point.
Scarlets thought they had got their second try of the match on 24 minutes through scrum-half Gareth Davies but replays showed James Davies had previously illegally kicked the ball out of the scrum.
Anscombe then compounded the misery shortly afterwards, extending his side’s lead with a penalty.
The Blues continued to hold the 11-7 advantage at the break but Scarlets came out on the attack after the restart and a sustained period of pressure, originally began by a lively break from James Davies, saw Patchell pick up the ball and spin over the try line, with Halfpenny adding the extras.
Trailing by three points, Blues nearly edged ahead shortly before the hour mark but Williams was ruled to have come up short of the line by the TMO after another strong drive from the hosts.
The Blues continued to apply the pressure in search of the breakthrough but Scarlets held firm to complete the double over their rivals.
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Anscombe 2
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Matthew Rees (captain), 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 George Earle, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Alex Cuthbert.
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams (captain), 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ryan Elias, 3 Werner Kruger, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Steve Cummins, 6 Josh Macleod, 7 James Davies, 8 Will Boyde.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Lewis Rawlins, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies, Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)