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Costelow helps six-try Scarlets thrash Benetton to boost European qualification hopes

By PA

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Scarlets kept alive their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup with a comprehensive 41-17 bonus-point victory over Benetton in Llanelli. Two tries from Jac Morgan and scores from Sam Costelow, Dane Blacker, Sione Kalamafoni and Paul Asquith, along with eleven points from the boots of Dan Jones and Steff Evans got Scarlets over the line.

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Leonardo Sarto and Cornelius Els scored Benetton’s tries, with four points coming from Edoardo Padovani. Benetton opened the scoring through the boot of Tommaso Allan after the Scarlets were penalised for illegally sacking a driving lineout.

But the hosts hit back immediately by applying pressure on the Benetton try line with a well-worked maul. With the visiting defence on the back foot openside flanker Morgan was able to power over from short range. The Scarlets pack were dominant in the first quarter and they had a try disallowed when Wales hooker Ryan Elias was held up over the line.

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Benetton, who will have Paul Gustard in their staff next season, were soon down to 14 men when hooker Tomas Baravalle was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball at the breakdown after an accumulation of penalties. The visitors were then reduced to 13 when tight-head prop Tiziano Pasquali was given a yellow for repeatedly infringing at the scrum

Costelow made the most of the Scarlets’ two-man advantage when he ghosted past two defenders to score. The Wales U20s outside-half injured himself in the process meaning wing Evans had to take the conversion. Scarlets were now rampant, with Morgan claiming their third try after he dummied and squeezed his way past two tackles to score, with Evans again converting.

The home side secured their try bonus point just before the interval when replacement outside-half Jones dinked a grubber kick behind the Benetton defence. The ball was flicked ahead by Johnny McNicholl, whose kick fortuitously fell into the arms of Blacker to score. Jones added the extras meaning the hosts led 26-3 at half-time.

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Benetton were a lot better in the early stages of the second half and claimed their first try of the game when Sarto stepped inside Evans to score, with Padovani adding the extras. Glenn Delaney emptied his replacements bench meaning the hosts lost some of the rhythm they had in the first half.

It took them 25 minutes of the second half to get back on the scoreboard through Jones’ boot. The Scarlets were soon celebrating their fifth try with a Morgan break taking them into the Benetton 22. Morgan was brought down just short, but the ball was recycled, with a well-timed pass from Morgan sending Kalamafoni over.

To their credit, Benetton refused to throw in the towel, with replacement hooker Els touching down from short range before Asquith scored the Scarlets’ sixth try.

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Costelow helps six-try Scarlets thrash Benetton to boost European qualification hopes

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