Pi­vac be­moans er­rors as Scar­lets are pipped by penalty try

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby Union - By Alex By­wa­ter at Parc y Scar­lets

Scar­lets, Cham­pi­ons Cup semi-fi­nal­ists last sea­son, started their Eu­ro­pean cam­paign with a last-gasp de­feat to Rac­ing 92. In truth, this was a game few will re­mem­ber in the long run such was the poor na­ture of the en­counter, but that will not bother the men from Paris one bit.

That the Top 14 out­fit came out on top was down to their for­wards, who earned a penalty try to seal it at the death. Ref­eree Matthew Car­ley ran un­der the posts af­ter Gareth Davies dragged down a Rac­ing driv­ing maul and sin-binned the Wales scrum-half as a re­sult.

It was the cru­cial mo­ment and left Scar­lets – who scored tries through Gareth Davies and Johnny McNi­choll – heart­bro­ken. “I haven’t seen the penalty try,” said coach Wayne Pi­vac. “We were dis­ap­pointed to go into half-time 7-3 down be­cause we con­ceded right on the whis­tle. We made a lot of er­rors in the first 20 to 30 min­utes. We know we have to be bet­ter and Le­ices­ter away next Fri­day night is a good op­por­tu­nity for us to bounce back.”

Leigh Half­penny gave the hosts an early 3-0 lead, but rookie fly-half An­gus O’Brien, on his first Scar­lets start, had a shock­ing open­ing quar­ter. He put the kick-off out on the full, dropped a high ball, saw his clear­ance at­tempt charged down and then spilt a pass.

De­spite giv­ing away a string of penal­ties, Rac­ing went to the break in front with a try al­most on the whis­tle. It came out of noth­ing, scrum-half Xavier Chau­veau sell­ing Sam­son Lee a dummy and pop­ping the ball up for Bap­tiste Chouzenoux, who can­tered to the line. Finn Rus­sell con­verted.

The fact the usu­ally re­li­able Hadleigh Parkes was guilty of some poor tac­ti­cal kick­ing summed up an aw­ful first 40 min­utes. Pi­vac re­placed O’Brien and Jake Ball, who had both suf­fered knocks, for the sec­ond pe­riod. Dan Jones was the man to come on at 10, but the driz­zle only served to make the paucity of the game even worse.

It was ironic, then, that two quick home tries ar­rived within five min­utes. First, the Scar­lets for­wards did their job from a scrum and Gareth Davies picked up and went blind to score in the corner. Then a grub­ber kick from Jonathan Davies found McNi­choll in space and the winger clev­erly slid over. Half­penny, cru­cially, missed with both con­ver­sion at­tempts.

It left Rac­ing to chase the game, but their pack fi­nally ground the hosts down. From a line-out surge, Car­ley de­cided the Scar­lets were on the wrong side of the law and the au­to­matic seven points ru­ined Pi­vac’s evening.

Rac­ing’s Si­mon Zebo said: “The game turned into a bit of a kick-fest, but we got the luck and it’s not of­ten Leigh misses two kicks. Mo­men­tum is a funny thing and this is a great re­sult for us to start the tour­na­ment.”

Scores 3-0 Half­penny pen; 3-5 Chouzenoux try; 3-7 Rus­sell con; 8-7 G Davies try; 13-7 J McNi­choll try; 13-14 Penalty try. Scar­lets L Half­penny; J McNi­choll (P Asquith 76), J Davies, H Parkes, S Evans; A O’Brien (D Jones 40), G Davies; W Jones (R Evans 54), K Owens (capt) (R Elias 67), S Lee (W Kruger 54), J Ball (T Price 40), D Bul­bring, E Kennedy (J Macleod 54), W Boyde, B Thom­son. Re­place­ment S Hi­dalgo-Clyne. Rac­ing 92 B Volavola; J Roko­coko (Vakatawa 55), O Kle­menczak, H Cha­vancy (capt), S Zebo; F Rus­sell, X Chau­veau (T Irib­aren 51); G Gogichashvili (E Ben Arous 51) (G Gogichashvili 55), C Chat (T Baubigny 60), E Gomes Sa (CJohn­ston 51), D Ryan, L Nakarawa (D Bird 60), W Lau­ret, B Chouzenoux, A Classen. Re­place­ments B Palu, L La­garde. Ref­eree Si­mon Mills (RFU).

Up and over: Rac­ing’s Henry Cha­vancy is tack­led by An­gus O’Brien

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