Sam­son’s Scar­lets’ tower of strength

The Rugby Paper - - Guinness Pro14 - ■ By ROB COLE

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.

PIC­TURE: Huw Evans

Hav­ing a laugh: Gareth Davies of runs in to score for Scar­lets

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