Special report by Alan Evans and Iwan Lewis at Welford Road
IT was a long drive home for the Scarlets fans this evening following the Heineken Champions Cup game against Leicester Tigers.
From the kick off Dan Cole was in the action quickly turning over the Scarlets and getting a penalty for the Tigers. George Ford put it over from 40 metres out to make the score Leicester 3 Scarlets 0
It wasn’t long before Leicester showed their intent following a free kick, which bounced deep in the Scarlets 22. The ball went to Harry Wells and he was able to dive in at the posts. George Ford made sure of the conversion to make the score Leicester 10 Scarlets 0
Despite being on the back foot the Scarlets managed to get a great try through Gareth Davies who slid in following some great passing. Halfpenny was on form with the conversion to take the score to Leicester 10 Scarlets 7
Halfpenny was unlucky to miss a penalty, which would have levelled the score. Blade Thompson was also denied a try having lost the ball just before the line. The TMO ruled out the try much to the dismay of the Scarlets fans who were on song and to the delight of the Tigers fans who had been screaming at the ref to look at the screen.
The game was really one of two halves in the first half with Leicester dominating the first end of the first half and the Scarlets making a spirited comeback in the second part of the first half. A Halfpenny penalty levelled the score at 10 -10 and it looked like the Scarlets were in with a shout.
It was the home side who went in for the oranges in the lead following a great try by Guy Thompson who took the opportunity after a well won turnover by Harry Wells. Ford created the overlap and Thompson managed to dive in at the corner. Leigh Halfpenny converted a penalty to take his tally in the European Cup to 500 points and to take the match score to Leicester 15 Scarlets 13 at half time.
The second half started with Leicester coming out of the blocks fastest and getting a penalty for their efforts. George Ford made no mistake in slotting it over to make the score Leicester 18 Scarlets 13
Leicester began to show the Scarlets their intent to put them to the sword as Sione Kalmafoni capitalised on a great run from Manu Tuilagi and crashed over for a try. George Ford converted to make the score Leicester 25 Scarlets 13
Despite being denied a try in the first half Blade Thompson made no mistake as he ran a great support line for Gareth Davies taking the ball at the death to dive in for a great try. Halfpenny delivered the goods taking the Scarlets into the lead and providing the visiting fans with something to sing about. Leicester 25 Scarlets 27
The celebrations were short lived as Leicester’s force of nature Manu Tuilagi capitalised on an error from the Scarlets and some great play from his team mates to dive in at the corner. George Ford kept the scoreboard turning in the home side’s favour with the conversion taking back the lead they were not to relinquish for the rest of the game. Leicester 35 Scarlets 27
Warren Gatland would have been keeping a keen eye on Jonah Holmes as he lines him up for the Wales Squad for the autumn fixtures. He would have noticed the young exile going over for a try only for it to be disallowed by the TMO. Leicester had the advantage through a penalty and Jonny May capitalised when a gap opened up in the Scarlet’s defence. George Ford ensured that the scoreboard turned again with the resulting score Leicester 42 Scarlets 27.
Another Ford penalty put the score at Leicester 45 Scarlets 27
Wayne Pivac will take some comfort from the performances of his men especially the scorers Gareth Davies and Blade Thompson. Ken Owens also gave his usual bullish performance and led by example. It was a great performance from the home side who did not succumb to the bursts of brilliance from the Scarlets. Holding their cool and playing expansive running rugby and bossing the game at critical moments ensured that the tigers got a bonus-point.
You can watch the post match interview with Wayne Pivac here.
2018 Heineken Champions Cup Full Time at Welford Road Leicester 45 – 27 Scarlets
Ref: Romain Poite Assis Ref 1: Vincent Blasco Baqué Assis Ref 2: Stephane Boyer TMO: Denis Grenouillet CC: Tim Lowry
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