Scarlets bounce back from heavy defeats with victory over Benetton in Llanelli
After heavy defeats at the hands of Munster and Leinster, the Scarlets badly needed a victory and succeeded by racking up four tries against their Italian visitors.
Thomas Gallo scored two tries for Benetton, while Dewaldt Duvenage and Tommaso Menoncello also went over and Rhyno Smith converted all four as they picked up a pair of bonus points for the second week running.
The Scarlets had the better of the opening exchanges, with Steff Evans testing the opposition defence with a couple of lively runs.
However, that period was dominated by a litany of handling errors before the home side deservedly took the lead.
From a ruck on the Italian 22, Blacker made a sharp break before Rob Evans finished off a succession of forward drives by powering over.
That score gave the hosts the confidence to move the ball and within three minutes they scored a splendid second.
Swift passing from inside their own half gave captain for the night Scott Williams the opportunity to sell two dummies and provide Blacker with an easy run-in.
Benetton soon responded with their first try when Monty Ioane made the running for their skipper Duvenage to race over. The final pass appeared forward although the officials considered a number of television replays.
The visitors continued to have much the better of the second quarter, with the Scarlets fortunate to escape the concession of further points and retain their 14-7 lead at the interval.
After the restart Benetton continued their onslaught and drew level when prop Gallo burst away from a maul 20 metres out and held off two Scarlets defenders to score.
The home side looked in trouble but stemmed the tide when Dan Jones kicked a penalty before hooker Marc Jones finished off a formidable line-out drive for the Scarlets’ third.
However, the visitors would not lie down, with Gallo forcing his way over for his second and Smith’s third conversion leaving the Italians three points adrift going into the final quarter.
The Welsh region calmed their nerves with their bonus-point try. A wonderful one-handed pick-up from Williams saw him burst away to give Blacker a second, but the Italians secured their two losing bonus points when Menoncello intercepted O’Brien’s pass for their fourth try.
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