Blues Rugby Sport

Scarlets scrape victory to leap into playoff places.

The Scarlets limped to a lacklustre victory over the Dragons to leapfrog both the Ospreys and Ulster into the Pro 12 playoff places.

If the previous match provided stacks of broken play, tries and excitement, the first period of Judgement Day’s second fixture was a far tighter affair. Kicking and defence dominated proceedings in a tight first period, with talking points at a premium.

Despite the ball being thrown around early, both defences stood strong, and continued to do so for the rest of the period. A Dragons side, void of positives both on and off the field all season, took a lot of heart and confidence from early possession and territory, with Angus O’Brien marshalling proceedings with the boot.

O’Brien kicked two penalties to Dan Jones’ solo effort, giving the Gwent region the slenderest of leads heading into the break.

Jones levelled the scoreboard early in the second, as the game continued to lack the dynamism needed for either team to gain the upper hand.

The Dragons continued to win the battle at the breakdown, with both Ollie Griffiths and Nick Cudd gaining the upper hand. It took a moment of inspiration to finally gain play-off chasing Scarlets a try scoring opportunity. Jonathan Davies slipped a tackle to put Jon Evans in, but the replacement scrum half was dragged down just short of the line.

The Dragons infringed at the following breakdown and referee Nigel Owens was quick to reduce the men of Gwent to 14.

Opting for touch, the Scarlets capitalised from the next phases of play, and despite squandering an overlap twice, Jonathan Davies finally touched down in the corner for the game’s first try.

Without a fulltime kicker on the park, the responsibility of place kicking fell to Liam Williams, and the wing had no problem hitting his mark with the conversion and a further penalty from range.

Buoyed by his kicking success, Williams went on to turn try scorer minutes later, backing himself in the wide channel to score a try that consolidated the win for the Llanelli based side.

The Dragons had the final say however, wing Adam Hughes finishing off a well worked try.

The victory pushes Scarlets up to third in the league, ahead of the Ospreys heading into the final two games.