Battling Dragons Suffer Defeat At Parc Y Scarlets
Dragons suffered a 20-3 defeat at a bitterly cold Parc y Scarlets on New Year’s Day despite a battling effort from Dean Ryan’s men.
The Men of Gwent have never beaten the Scarlets on their 13 previous visits to Llanelli and missed an opportunity to win three consecutive games on the road for the first time since 2004 (in the league) as that streak continued on the opening day of 2021.
Tries from Sione Kalamafoni and Sam Costelow, who converted his own score, plus eight points from the boot of Dan Jones were enough for Scarlets to continue their run of derby victories to six over their fellow Welsh sides.
Dragons could only manage three points from fly half Josh Lewis in return as Dragons suffered back-to-back derby defeats.
Scarlets started the brighter and dominated possession and territory in the opening exchanges while looking dangerous with ball in hand.
But Dragons withstood the pressure and managed to take the lead through the boot of Lewis, who continued where he left off last week off the tee, as Scarlets dealt with some early indiscipline, Javan Sebastian the culprit on this occasion.
The game continued in the same vein as Scarlets dominated territory but resolute defence alongside errors from the home side allowed Dragons to stay ahead in the game and cause some problems themselves.
It was the Men of Gwent who almost scored the first try of the game after a searing break from Jonah Holmes, but the full back could not make the decisive pass to winger Owen Jenkins and the Scarlets managed to clear their lines following an interception.
Scarlets levelled things up just before the half hour mark as fly half Jones kicked his first points of the match. Dragons had the opportunity to regain the lead but Lewis’ ambitious effort from near half-way fell short of the posts.
The away side were forced to reshuffle their backline just before half-time as Holmes was forced off, with young Aneurin Owen coming on for his Guinness PRO14 debut.
The home side took the lead with the last kick of the half as Jones kicked his second penalty to send the home side 6-3 up.
Scarlets started the second half as they ended the first on top in the Dragons 22m and almost scored their first try of the game through winger Steff Evans, but fantastic cover defence from the away side bundled him into touch.
Dragons started to get on top with half an hour to go, but handling errors and indiscipline costing them dearly.
With 25 minutes to go Dragons lock Matthew Screech was sent to the sin bin for tackling a player without the ball.
Scarlets made the away side pay as they scored from the resulting penalty, Number 8 Sione Kalamafoni scoring from a well worked lineout move and Jones added the extras.
Dragons successfully kept Scarlets at bay throughout the rest of the sin bin period and started building pressure themselves with multiple visits into the Scarlets 22m.
But despite opportunities to close the gap, inaccuracy let Ryan’s men down when they needed it most.
With a minute to go, replacement fly half Costelow sealed victory with a fantastic solo effort and added the extras to making it 20-3.
That was the last kick of the game as Dragons walked away from Parc y Scarlets empty handed despite a battling effort in Llanelli.
13m Lewis p 0-3
29m Jones p 3-3
40m Jones p 6-3
57m Kalamafoni t Jones c 13-3
79m Costelow t Costelow c 20-3
Scarlets: Angus O’Brien; Tom Prydie, Tyler Morgan, Steff Hughes, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Javan Sebastian, Jake Ball, Sam Lousi, Blade Thomson, Dan Davis, Sione Kalamafoni.
Replacements: Marc Jones, Phil Price, Pieter Scholtz, Tevita Ratuva, Ed Kennedy, Gareth Davies, Sam Costelow, Paul Asquith.
Dragons: Jonah Holmes (Owen 36), Owen Jenkins, Nick Tompkins, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, Josh Lewis, Tavis Knoyle (Williams 62); Brok Harris (Jarvis 62), Elliot Dee (Hibbard 62), Leon Brown (Fairbrother 72), Ben Carter (Davies 53), Matthew Screech, Harrison Keddie, Taine Basham (Taylor 23), Aaron Wainwright.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Aaron Jarvis, Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Huw Taylor, Rhodri Williams, Aneurin Owen, Evan Lloyd.
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)