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Scarlets survive red card punch-up to claim Dragons derby win

By PA
NEWPORT, WALES - APRIL 23: Sione Kalamafoni of the Scarlets during warm up ahead of the United Rugby Championship match between Dragons and Scarlets at Rodney Parade on April 23, 2022 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Huw Fairclough/Getty Images)

The Scarlets survived a red card to number eight Sione Kalamafoni in the first half to secure a much-needed 33-17 victory over the Dragons in their Welsh derby at Parc y Scarlets.

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The Tonga international was shown a red card after a throwing two punches at Wales and British and Irish Lions backrower Ross Moriarty towards the end of the first half of this United Rugby Championship clash.

It was the second time in two games that the Scarlets found themselves down to 14 men in the first half but they produced a superb rearguard action to secure only a second win of this URC campaign.

The Dragons will be scratching their heads at how they did not make their extra man count against their fellow strugglers, but the home side were well worth the win with wings Steff Evans, Johnny McNicholl and scrum-half Dane Blacker all crossing for tries.

Leigh Halfpenny slotted over two penalties to put the Scarlets ahead but the Dragons hit back with three points from JJ Hanrahan before wing Rio Dyer then split the home side’s defence with an arcing run to put full-back Angus O’Brien in at the corner for the visiting team’s first try against the run of play.

Hanrahan added the conversion to make it 10-6 before the Scarlets replied almost straight away when a slick backline move saw Evans run in unopposed. Halfpenny added the conversion to give the Scarlets a three-point lead.

Then, the game exploded with major fracas between both sides with Kalamafoni throwing two punches at Dragons opposite number Moriarty, with the Scarlets man given his marching orders with a red card.

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Moriarty was shown a yellow card but the Dragons took full advantage with a driving lineout from the penalty and scrum-half Lewis Jones crashed over from short range to make it 15-13 to the visitors.

Hanrahan and Halfpenny swapped a conversion and a penalty to make it 16-17 to the Dragons at half-time, but it was the home side who would end up claiming the win thanks to a superb second-half display.

Halfpenny added a fourth penalty to give his side a 19-17 lead at the start of the second half.

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The Scarlets’ 14 men then enjoyed a period of pressure on the Dragons line and Blacker finally crashed over for the try that further extended the home side’s lead.

Halfpenny added the conversion before McNicholl crossed for the Scarlets’ third try right on full-time to record an unlikely but deserved home win.

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