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Challenge Cup round-up: Scarlets beat Cheetahs, Dragons stay alive

Scarlets' Steff Evans scores (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Scarlets booked a European Challenge Cup round-of-16 place after beating South African side the Cheetahs 20-17 in Llanelli. The Pool B leaders posted a third successive win in this season’s competition, although they were given a thorough examination at Parc y Scarlets.


Cheetahs led by seven points midway through the third quarter before their opponents rallied. Wings Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans scored tries for the Welsh side, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties and two conversions.

Hooker Louis van der Westhuizen and wing Daniel Kasende touched down for the Cheetahs, with fly-half Siya Masuku adding two conversions and a penalty.

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The Dragons kept alive their hopes of reaching the knockout phase with an impressive 21-15 victory over French challengers Pau at Stade du Hameau. Pau took an early lead through Daniel Ikpefan’s try that Thibault Debaaes converted, but Dragons quickly drew level through an Ashton Hewitt try, plus Will Reed’s conversion.

Reed also kicked two penalties and JJ Hanrahan one, while centre Max Clark scored a second Dragons try as Pau were restricted to a second-half Vincent Pinto touch down and a late Alex Desperes penalty that clinched a losing bonus-point.


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Flankly 12 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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