De­feat for Scar­lets, but Pi­vac’s men pick up a de­served bonus

Wales On Sunday - - SPORT ON SUNDAY -

THE Scar­lets suf­fered only a sec­ond Guin­ness PRO14 de­feat of the sea­son, but picked up a de­served los­ing bonus point from a gritty ef­fort in Bloem­fontein.

Miss­ing so many play­ers on in­ter­na­tional duty, this test on the Highveld was al­ways go­ing to be a ma­jor one for Wayne Pi­vac’s de­pleted side, but they stuck to their task ad­mirably.

A try for the re­turn­ing James Davies in the first half kept them in the con­test, as did a su­perb solo score from young wing Ioan Ni­cholas after the break.

Pi­vac, though, will be more than sat­is­fied with a re­turn of six points from their two matches on South African soil as at­ten­tion turns to the re­sump­tion of Euro­pean rugby next week­end.

Mike Phillips, out of re­tire­ment for this trip, also turned back the clock, last­ing 65 min­utes in an as­sured dis­play at scrum-half.

The vis­i­tors had started brightly and were re­warded with an early penalty from Dan Jones.

The home re­sponse was swift with fly-half Fred Zeilinga land­ing the first of three long-range penalty shots.

His sec­ond ar­rived after the vis­i­tors’ scrum was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously shoved back on its heels, but home in­dis­ci­pline al­lowed Jones to level mat­ters on 16 min­utes.

The Scar­lets were in­debted to a su­perb cover tackle from full-back Johnny McNi­choll on scrum-half Shaun Ven­ter to keep their line in­tact, but they were un­able to stop cen­tre Wil­liam Small-Smith, who pounced on a kick through from former Scar­let Rynier Bernardo, who had in­ter­cepted and hoofed the ball up­field.

When Zeilinga added an­other penalty, again for a scrum of­fence, the alarm bells were ring­ing for the Scar­lets.

But the Con­fer­ence B lead­ers fin­ished the half strongly, thanks to a beau­ti­fully-crafted score for open­side Davies – back after 12 weeks re­cov­er­ing from shoul­der surgery.

Lead­ing 16-11 at the break, the Chee­tahs con­tin­ued to press with the Scar­lets for­tu­nate to es­cape on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions.

But fi­nally, the home side got their sec­ond try and it was a cracker.

McNi­choll will be dis­ap­pointed with his clear­ance, which landed straight into the arms of wing Craig Barry, and the speed­ster de­liv­ered it back in style from his own half, cut­ting through a dis­jointed de­fen­sive line to beat de­fender after de­fender to cross for a mem­o­rable solo try.

With the Scar­lets clearly tir­ing, they des­per­ately needed some­thing to lift them and it came via 19-year-old Ni­cholas.

There ap­peared lit­tle on when the Pon­ty­berem product re­ceived the ball wide out on half­way, but he cut in­side, then turned on the af­ter­burn­ers to out­strip the home de­fence for his sec­ond try in as many games.

That score, con­verted by Jones, put the Scar­lets back into los­ing bonus point ter­ri­tory, but a sec­ond Barry try with 11 min­utes re­main­ing sealed the win for the hosts.

How­ever, a missed Chee­tahs con­ver­sion and a late penalty for Tom Pry­die saw the Scar­lets leave with a de­served los­ing bonus point.

CHEE­TAHS: Tries: W. Small-Smith, C. Barry (2). Cons: F. Zeilinga (2). Pens: Zeilinga (3)

SCAR­LETS: Tries: J. Davies, I. Ni­cholas. Con: D. Jones. Pens: Jones (2), T. Pry­die.

Ioan Ni­cholas dives over for a spark­ing try for the Scar­lets in Bloem­fontein

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.