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Rugby | Champions Cup

Paul Asquith © Gallo Images

Scarlets get the better of Benetton

The Scarlets continued with their fine recent form when they secured a 31-12 win against Benetton in their Champions Cup encounter in Treviso on Saturday.

The Welsh region were full value for their victory as they dominated for large periods and they eventually outscored their hosts four tries to two with Gareth Davies leading the way with a deserved brace.

The result is the Scarlets' second win of the competition and provisionally moves them into second position in pool five, although that situation could change when Bath take on Toulon later on Saturday.

Scarlets held the upper-hand in the early exchanges and took an early lead courtesy of a Leigh Halfpenny penalty in the ninth minute.

Four minutes later, Johnny McNicholl found himself in space down the right-hand touchline, after Halfpenny and Paul Asquith combined brilliantly in the build-up, and the New Zealand flyer did well to outpace the cover defence before crossing the whitewash.

Halfpenny converted which gave the visitors a 10-0 lead, but midway through the half the home side suffered a setback when Federico Zani was yellow carded for deliberately collapsing a Scarlets lineout drive close to Benetton's 22-metre line.

Three minutes later, the Welsh region benefited from their numerical advantage when Scott Williams stabbed a grubber kick through which McNicholl gathered inside Benetton's 22.

He set off towards the home side's try-line but his progress was halted by a fine cover tackle from Monty Ioane deep inside Benetton's 22. But despite going to ground, McNicholl did well to offload to Paul Asquith, who had an easy run in and dotted down under the posts.

Three minutes before half-time, Gareth Davies broke from the back of a scrum, close to Benetton's try-line, and beat a couple of defenders with some deft footwork before crossing for his side's third try - Halfpenny's conversion meant the Scarlets led 24-0 at half-time.

Three minutes into the second half, Benetton had to play with 14 men again after Angelo Esposito was sent to the sin-bin for halting a Scarlets attack deep inside his half with a deliberate knockdown.

A minute later, the visitors extended their lead and secured their try-scoring bonus-point when scrum-half Davies sold Jayden Hayward a dummy at a ruck close to Benetton's try-line before barging over for his second try.

The rest of the half was a tight affair with both sides cancelling each other out with solid defensive efforts.

Benetton were rewarded in the 79th minute, however, when Ioane stepped past a couple of defenders inside Scarlets' 22 before diving over in the right-hand corner and Ian McKinley landed a difficult conversion from close to the touchline.

And just before full-time, Ioane did well to outpace two chasers before diving over in the left-hand corner and, although McKinley failed to convert, that try added some respectability to the score for the home side.


Benetton - Tries: Ioane 2. Conversion: McKinley

Scarlets - Tries: McNicholl, Asquith, G Davies 2. Conversions: Halfpenny 4. Penalty: Halfpenny


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