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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Scarlets 30-17 Ospreys
Lee Byrne crosses for the opening try
Scarlets (18) 30
Tries: Byrne, King
Con: Hercus
Pens: Hercus (3), B Davies (2)
DG: Hercus
Ospreys (9) 17
Tries: Terblanche
Pens: Henson (4)
Att: 10,800
The Scarlets kept alive their slim hopes of the Celtic League title with a hard-fought west Wales derby win.

Fly-half Mike Hercus starred with 14 points, the USA international playing a part in his side's two first-half tries for Lee Byrne and Regan King.

The latter was the hammer blow to the Ospreys, Dafydd James sparking a break out from turnover ball in his own 22.

The visitors were on top in the tight and came back with a Stefan Terblanche try but missed kicks cost them a bonus.

Gavin Henson - starting at fly-half in a late team change due to Shaun Connor's calf injury - opened the scoring with a first-minute penalty, but he was at fault for the opening try.

Hercus ghosted beautifully between the Wales man and Des Dillon before floating a pass to Byrne, giving the wing the space to cross.

It was a hard-fought local derby - they're never any different
Scarlets captain Simon Easterby

Byrne then charged down a Henson kick and a furious Scarlets attack looked certain to yield a try, but Hercus' long, scoring pass to James was adjudged forward.

The Ospreys had been forced offside, though, and Hercus landed a simple penalty.

A fine Leigh Davies midfield break and Ian Evans' good line-out work set up the position for Henson's second penalty, to the dismay of the sell-out Stradey Park crowd.

In a physical battle, Byrne - rumoured to be on the move to the Ospreys in the summer - went off with a worrying leg injury and Richie Pugh made way for James Bater.

The Ospreys' scrum dominance helped secure two long-range penalties, but both Henson's efforts went astray and when his team infringed at the breakdown Barry Davies slotted a 40m shot.

As the penalty count mounted, John Davies was harshly sin-binned for a push when he felt Sonny Parker had late-tackled Hercus.

Henson's third kick brought it back to 11-9, and his back-line promptings seemed set to win their reward.

But a Scarlets turnover was moved quickly to James, who went on a 50m run from his own 22, before feeding inside to Hercus who sent King under the posts for a superb score.

Hercus missed a simple kick to extend that lead straight after the break, and Davies failed with another long-range effort before knocking over a 52m shot.

It was one of the best games we've seen for a while despite the mistakes
Ospreys club captain Barry Williams

The Ospreys at last gathered themselves for a multi-phased attack, and when home captain Easterby killed the ball five metres from his line he was sent to the sin bin.

The Llanelli side looked like weathering the storm, but a poor Hercus kick set up a sustained attack from the visitors that ended with Terblanche scoring in the corner.

Hercus and Henson exchanged penalties, before the Scarlets man hit a fine drop goal.

That took the gap to 10 points, and Henson missed a late shot at goal that could have given his side a losing bonus point.

It was left to Hercus to have the final say, landing his third penalty with the last kick of the game.

  • Scarlets captain Simon Easterby:
    "It wasn't pretty, it was too indisciplined, but it was a hard-fought local derby - they're never any different.

    "I was disappointed with myself at getting sin-binned, I'd spoken about discipline at half-time and I felt I let the boys down.

    "But we'll take the win, we were rusty as we hadn't had a lot of rugby in recent weeks.

    "We can't play like that in the Powergen Cup final against Wasps next weekend, there's plenty to work on."

  • Ospreys club captain Barry Williams:
    "It was one of the best games we've seen for a while despite the mistakes.

    "We kept the ball alive and played with pace, but the Scarlets defended well.

    "It's disappointing to come away without even a bonus point out of that game."

    Scarlets: B. Davies, D. James, Watkins, King, Byrne, Hercus, Stuart-Smith, John, Rees, J. Davies, Afeaki, A. Jones, Easterby, G. Thomas, D. Jones.
    Replacements: G. Evans for Byrne (22), I. Thomas for John (52), Cooper for Afeaki (60), Quinnell for Easterby (76). Not Used: Hawkins, L. Davies, Bowen.

    Ospreys: Terblanche, Mustoe, S. Parker, Henson, S. Williams, Connor, Spice, D. Jones, Bennett, A. Jones, Wyn Jones, Evans, Thomas, Pugh, D. Dillon.
    Replacements: Karauna for Mustoe (66), Hibbard for Bennett (49), Newman for Wyn Jones (76), Bateman for Evans (66), Bater for Pugh (24). Not Used: Millward, L. Davies.

    Referee: Phil Fear (WRU)



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    18 Sep 05 |  Wales


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