Patchell stars as Scarlets dispatch Dragons
PRO14 MATCH REPORT: Rhys Patchell was at the heart of everything the Scarlets did as the reigning PRO14 champions put in a blistering seven-try showing to dispatch Welsh rivals the Dragons in style.
The Scarlets have now won 17 consecutive home games in the Championship since Munster beat them at Parc y Scarlets in September 2016 and after a cagey opening, they simply blew their opponents away, with Patchell pulling the strings from fullback in the 47-13 triumph.
James Davies, Tom Prydie and Dan Jones put the hosts in control by half-time and after Aled Davies wrapped up the four-try bonus point early in the second period, further scored from Aaron Shingler, Will Boyde and Rhys Jones added the gloss.
Sarel Pretorius did go over for a consolation try late on for the Dragons but the convincing victory ensures the Scarlets have still only lost one PRO14 match since round three.
Scarlets made 11 personnel changes from the side that had beaten Cardiff Blues last time out and the much-altered backline didn’t look as slick as normal in the early stages, sloppy handling being the hallmark of the first ten minutes.
They did dominate possession but it was the Dragons who got the first points on the board as Arwel Robson nailed a 48-metre offside penalty on 13 minutes.
But that sparked the hosts into life and they scored three tries in 15 first-half minutes soon after.
Firstly, an attacking lineout led to an inexorable driving maul down the left touchline and James Davies fell over the line for the simple score.
Steff Hughes was the architect of try number two, stabbing a pinpoint grubber kick through the Dragons defence for Prydie to run on to and touch down before hooker Ken Owens was the unlikely inspiration for the third try.
The Wales international produced a beautiful show-and-go to dart through a gap in the defence, offloaded to Davies and the flanker then fed the supporting Dan Jones to run in under the posts – the fly-half converting his own try, as he had done with his team’s first score, for a 19-3 lead.
The Dragons added a second penalty before half-time through the boot of Carl Meyer but ten minutes after the break, Aled Davies sealed the bonus point as Steve Cummins offloaded out of the tackle to Patchell, who fed Davies perfectly for the simple score.
Patchell then got the whole Scarlets line-up moving from inside his own half as he switched the play from one side of the field to the other and eventually Shingler produced a little dummy to canter over for try number five.
Patchell then took on kicking duties and duly converted his sides final two tries – the first coming as another unstoppable driving maul was pushed over the line, Boyde the beneficiary this time.
Their seventh and final try came on 66 minutes as the brilliant Patchell charged through the helpless Dragons defence once more, produced a one-handed offload out of the tackle and a couple of passes later, Jonathan Evans fed Rhys Jones for the dot down.
Pretorius did burrow over from close-range for a consolation try at the death but it was the Scarlets’ evening as they extended their lead atop Conference B.
Tries: J Davies, Prydie, D Jones, A Davies, Shingler, Boyde, R Jones
Cons: D Jones 4, Patchell 2
Pens: Thomas, Meyer
Scarlets: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Aled Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Rhys Jones, 23 Morgan Williams.
Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Arwel Robson, 9 Dan Babos, 8 James Benjamin, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Cory Hill (captain), 4 Joe Davies, 3 Nicky Thomas, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Luke Garrett.
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Rynard Landman, 20 Robson Blake, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Jarryd Sage.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)