Edinburgh finally got a victory at the fourth attempt in the Guinness PRO14 as they edged out Scarlets 6-3 in a hard-fought encounter at Parc Y Scarlets. A day on from Scotland’s 14-10 Six Nations win over Wales on the same ground, two Jaco Van Der Walt penalties earned last season’s semi-finalists a narrow victory against a home side reduced to 14 men on the hour mark when Josh Helps was sent off.
The horrendous conditions as the last throes of Storm Aiden blew through Llanelli dictated it was going to be tight and error strewn game and the ball rarely went beyond the clutches of the first and second runners from the set-pieces and rucks.
Edinburgh came into the game missing six internationals and then lost three players through injury in the opening 19 minutes. One of the changes saw WP Nel come into the front row on the tight head and cause considerable unrest to the home scrum.
The damage he created forced Scarlets coach Glenn Delaney to haul off loosehead prop Phil Price before half-time and send on returning Wales forward Rob Evans to try to stop the rot.
If the first quarter was a sounding out process, the second saw the visitors come more into the game via their increasingly dominant scrum.
As the penalty count crept up, so Edinburgh began to dominate territory and keep the Scarlets under pressure.
The home side’s best chance in the first half came when Tyler Morgan finally found an edge after 22 minutes, but his pass to Johnny McNicholl hit the deck. That summed up the night.
The first points of the game came with the last kick of the half when Van Der Walt kicked a simple penalty from in front of the home posts. It was nothing less than Edinburgh deserved for their pressure, but it could have been so much more.
A series of penalties and free kicks conceded by Scarlets enabled Edinburgh to get a strong foot hold in the 22.
They opted for a scrum rather than line-out five metres out from the home line and got up to, and seemingly over, it after five driving phases.
Referee Chris Busby indicated a try to Nel, but then went to the TMO to check. He spotted a dropped ball and the try was ruled out and changed to the penalty that Van Der Walt kicked.
Angus O’Brien replied 11 minutes into the second half with a 40-metre penalty this time awarded against the Edinburgh scrum, but it was not long before the Scarlets hit further problems.
One of the strangest trophy ceremonies ever!
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 1, 2020
Werner Kruger was sent to the sin-bin less than a minute after coming on as a front-row replacement and then Van Der Walt kicked a second penalty.
Worse followed on the hour mark for the home side when Helps was sent off for a head-to-head tackle on Edinburgh wing George Taylor. It was the second weekend in a row a Scarlets lock had seen red after Morgan Jones in Italy.
The Scarlets were held up over the line in the dying minutes, but could not find a way to conjure up a winning score.
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