Scarlets 24 Dragons 13
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons lost their ninth league game in a row against the Scarlets after an inept forward performance in a damp squib of a derby.
What should really worry Darren Edwards’ men is that they were taken apart by a Scarlets eight who hardly set the world on fire.
The Dragons have never won at Parc y Scarlets and if they don’t improve quickly, they never will.
The good news for Welsh rugby - after another terrible Pro 12 advert - is that 19-year-old Scarlets tighthead prop Samson Lee is a top prospect and he tormented the Dragons in the scrum.
The visitors had started well in appalling conditions on a dreadful night in Llanelli and they went into the lead thanks to a beautifully struck penalty from near half way by outside-half Steffan Jones after nine minutes.
But he went from hero to villain in the next few minutes after two of his kicks went out on the full to cost the visitors huge swathes of territory.
Former Dragon Aled Thomas, picked ahead of Wales’ first choice No 10 Rhys Priestland, put the hosts back on level terms with a penalty of his own a few minutes later.
The Scarlets started to get the upper hand with their full back Liam Williams showing characteristic adventure to probe the Dragons’ defence.
On 25 minutes there was a bizarre sequence of events that cost the Dragons dearly and will no doubt feature on Question of Sport’s ‘What Happened Next ?’ sooner rather than later.
Scarlets fly half Thomas looked to have missed an easy penalty but with the visitors sleeping, thinking the kick had gone over, another ex-Dragons in centre Gareth Maule followed up and pounced on the ball.
The game was then stopped for several minutes as referee Nigel Owens asked television match official Gareth Simmonds to rule on whether the penalty had gone through the posts.
When he decided it hadn’t, Owens then asked him to adjudicate if Maule had scored a try with Simmonds giving the Scarlets the thumbs up.
Thomas then really rubbed the Dragons’ noses in it by nailing the touchline conversion.
The Dragons had said before the game they would target the Scarlets’ scrum which is prone to be flaky against the big boys.
But the sad fact is, the visitors aren’t anywhere near the league of the Ospreys front row who shunted last night’s visitors around Parc y Scarlets last month.
With just 30 per cent territory and possession in the first 40 minutes, the Dragons were under terrible pressure and Thomas added two more penalties before half-time, as well as missing another sitter, to give them a well-deserved 16-3 lead.
The second half was just as shocking for the visitors as well as the fans.
The Dragons’ lineout joined their malfunctioning scrum after replacement hooker Hugh Gustafson failed to find his rhythm when he replaced Steve Jones.
Chances were few and far between for the poor Dragons, outside half Steffan Jones fluffing a drop kick attempt in front of the posts just outside the Scarlets 22.
The Dragons however managed to score the first points of another atrocious second period when wing Tom Prydie slotted over a 60th minute penalty to make it 16-6 and keep them in the game.
The Gwent region where given a lifeline when it was the Scarlets’ turn at a defensive calamity when centre Scott Williams made a complete hash of trying to ground a kick through by Dragons full back Dan Evans on the greasy turf.
Adam Hughes followed up well and pounce on the ball to score a try after 63 minutes that was beautifully converted by Prydie.
A panicking Scarlets wondered how on earth they were leading by just three points but disaster struck minutes later for the Dragons when they were again destroyed in the scrum.
After being pushed off their own ball, scrum half Jonathan Evans was sin binned for taking out Josh Turnbull in the ensuing carnage and replacement Priestland kicked an easy penalty.
There was a fairytale return for Scarlet Morgan Stoddart, making his first appearance since a horrendous double leg break sustained playing for Wales against England at Twickenham in a pre-World Cup defeat at Twickenham in August 2011.
The full back/wing nearly scored after a wonderful run before going over in the corner in the 71st minute to eliminate slim Dragons hopes of a comeback.