Samson’s Scarlets’ tower of strength
SAMSON Lee celebrated his 100th appearance for the Scarlets against Edinburgh two weeks ago and now he has his first try for the region to add to that honour.
And what a try it was! A classic from all of one metre from a driving lineout in the Ospreys 22 after the home side had been reduced to 14 men when replacement tight head prop Dmitri Arhip had been sent to the sin-bin for pulling down another drive by the visiting pack.
Loose head prop Wyn Jones had been denied a try moments earlier, but there was going to be no denying his fellow Welsh international front row man and the smile on his face as he held the ball aloft said it all.
It was a vital score in the context of a game that ebbed and flowed because it put the PRO12 champions back in front just after the hour. It was a lead they were not to let go of and the sounds of Sospan Bach resonating from their dressing room after the game told you everything you needed to know about how they felt about it. Dan Biggar punished the stream of breakdown penalties awarded against the champions to keep the home side in the fight, but not even his perfect six from six was enough to haul them over the line in the end.
It meant a fifth successive defeat for the four time former champions to deepen their crisis and leave them anchored to the bottom of Conference A. Victory for the Scarlets took them to the top of Conference B.
The visitors showed off their firepower in the opening few minutes when Johnny Macnicholl and Rhys Patchell combined to send Gareth Davies scampering for the right corner from 40 metres out. Cory Allen managed to stop him in the corner, but there was no catching the Welsh scrum half in the second half.
He ran in two tries after Steff Evans and then Hadleigh Parkes opened up the home defence to give him a clear run to the line. His second try allowed the champions to level the scores on 50 minutes after Biggar’s boot had given the Ospreys a 9-0 lead that they probably deserved for their direct, power play.
The Ospreys didn’t send out Rhys Webb for the second half and he could
yet be in trouble for what looked like an elbow to the face of opposite number Gareth Davies in a fracas that led to Tadhg Beirne being sent to the sin-bin for pushing James King.
Biggar’s fourth penalty success came in between the two Davies tries and his fifth made it 15-12 six minute later. But the Scarlets were in no mood to be denied and their second half performance was full of the tempo that was missing from the opening 40 minutes.
Lee’s try came from a driving line-out moments after Wyn Jones had had an effort ruled out and Arhip’s yellow card. This time Patchell hit the mark with a wide-angled conversion, but how he managed to miss three kicks earlier on, having hit the target with all 11 previous attempts this season was baffling, and almost costly for his side.
Biggar’s sixth penalty 13 minutes from time kept the game in the melting pot, but by then the Scarlets pack had got on top and not even another penalty miss by Patchell’s replacement, Rhys Jones, was going to spoil the party for the visiting fans.
Having a laugh: Gareth Davies of runs in to score for Scarlets