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Halfpenny makes statement with boot on return as Scarlets rout Cheetahs

By Harry West
Scarlets and Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny

Leigh Halfpenny contributed 11 points on his return to action as the Scarlets eased to a resounding 43-21 victory over the Cheetahs in Pro14 on Sunday.

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The Wales full-back took to the field for the first time in over three months at Parc y Scarlets, having sustained a concussion playing for his country against Australia in November.

Halfpenny had trained with Warren Gatland’s squad during the week in the build-up to Saturday’s Six Nations clash with England, but was not considered for selection as Wales prevailed 21-13 to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive.

And the British and Irish Lion played the full 80 minutes for his club, converting four of the six tries and adding a penalty as the Scarlets closed to within three points of a play-off spot in Conference B.

The Scarlets were rampant in the opening quarter of the game and secured a bonus point by running in four tries inside 20 minutes.

Uzair Cassiem got the hosts off to a flier against his former side before Johnny McNicholl crossed the whitewash, shortly followed by Kieron Fonotia – on the end of Dan Jones’ chip – and Josh Macleod.

Halfpenny converted the latter trio of scores, but the Cheetahs fought their way back into contention late in the half, aided by McNicholl’s sin-bin for a professional foul.

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Benhard Janse van Rensburg went over with the Scarlets down to 14 and once McNicholl had returned Rabz Maxwane benefitted from a spectacular backheel flick from flanker Abongile Nonkontwana out on the left wing.

Wyn Jones and Gerhard Olivier traded scores early in the second period before Halfpenny slotted a simple penalty and the hosts rounded off the scoring as McNicholl intercepted and sent Paul Asquith surging over.

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