Scarlets' late show down Benetton
Scarlets' late show down BenettonSHARE
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)