THE Scarlets and Dragons failed to provide much hope that 2021 will be a big improvement on 2020 after a mediocre Guinness PRO14 derby in Llanelli.

The home side took the spoils 20-3 from a New Year’s Day fixture in which mistakes comfortably outnumbered moments of quality.

The key incident was a try by Scarlets number eight Sione Kalamafoni from a five-metre lineout before replacement fly-half Sam Costelow added a final touch at the death.

It was a poor game in which there were few moments to get supporters excited. The consolation will be that they were watching in the warm on their sofa rather than pondering why they bothered in the stands and terraces.

It was a shocker, and this time the weather couldn’t be blamed.

The Boxing Day derby against Cardiff Blues was played in a howling wind and torrential rain but it was a perfect, if cold, night in Llanelli.

Nonetheless there were errors galore in the first 40 minutes with terrible skill levels limiting the scoring to 6-3 to the Scarlets.

The hope was that it would get better after the restart but it barely made it above pedestrian.

The Scarlets were at least able to chalk up four points but the Dragons endured another pointless trip out west to a ground where they have never won.

After two derby disappointments they will look to raise themselves for one last charge against the Ospreys a week on Saturday when they bid to avoid a festive derby whitewash.

South Wales Argus:

The Scarlets started on the front foot, keen to put the squeeze on the Dragons with their driving lineout only for Ryan’s men to stand firm.

They reaped the rewards of that when a superb turnover by Taine Basham allowed them to stress the Scarlets’ defence for the first time and the hosts infringed to give Josh Lewis a first shot at goal. The fly-half made no mistake from 40 metres to make it 3-0.

The Scarlets suffered a blow when Wales lock Jake Ball was forced off after just 15 minutes, although his replacement Tevita Ratuva ensured they still boasted plenty of bulk.

The game sparked into life in the 23rd minute when Jonah Holmes opted to jink and run, going from his own 22 to the Scarlets’ only for the attack to fizzle out when he couldn’t find a supporting man before Jack Dixon flung a wild long pass that was intercepted.

The casualties kept coming with Wales loosehead Wyn Jones forced off for the home side and Wales hopeful Basham, who had made an impressive start, forced off for the visitors after the same passage of play.

South Wales Argus:

Scarlets fly-half Dan Jones levelled with a sweet strike in the 29th minute and the treatment room continued to fill up after former Dragons centre Tyler Morgan, a man who deserves some injury fortune, limped off.

There was more activity on the benches than on the pitch.

Ryan Elias went off with head injury but Wyn Jones came back on for the Scarlets. Jonah Holmes went off, Anuerin Owen came on for the Dragons.

That forced a rejig with hot prospect Owen slotting in at 12 on his PRO14 debut, Jack Dixon shifting to outside centre, Owen Jenkins switching to 15 and Wales international Nick Tompkins, as he had done in Bordeaux, filling in on the wing.

There was still time for one last bit of action for the Scarlets to inch ahead 6-3 through the boot of Jones after a quick tap penalty by Kieran Hardy had forced the Dragons to defend desperately in their 22.

It took a fine cover tackle by Owen Jenkins to deny home wing Steff Evans in the opening exchanges of the second half, the Scarlets speedster sent flying down the right after a missed tackle by centre-turned-wing Tompkins.

The standard of the game hadn’t lifted but the Scarlets were in control after 56 minutes after a double-whammy for the Dragons.

Lock Matthew Screech was sent to the sin bin for a tackle off the ball and the home side went to the corner.

Rather than drive, they produced a neat move to put number eight Sione Kalamafoni over untouched for a try that Jones converted for 13-3.

Young Owen produced a classy moment to put Dixon charging into the 22 to give the Dragons some hope of chipping away at the lead but Ratuva got his large mitts on the ball to win a vital jackal penalty to relieve the pressure.

Penalties were kicked to the Scarlets’ 22 but chances were squandered by the Dragons, for who Rhodri Williams had added zip at scrum-half.

It was already going to be a pointless visit to Llanelli but the home side twisted the knife at the death when Costlow jinked through after the ball fell kindly.

Scarlets: A O'Brien; T Prydie, T Morgan, S Hughes (captain), S Evans; D Jones, K Hardy; W Jones, R Elias, J Sebastian, J Ball, S Lousi, B Thomson, D Davis, S Kalamafoni.
Replacements: M Jones, P Price, P Scholtz, T Ratuva, E Kennedy, G Davies, S Costelow, P Asquith.
Scorers: tries – S Kalamafoni, S Costelow; conversions – D Jones, S Costelow; penalties – D Jones (2)

Dragons: J Holmes; O Jenkins, N Tompkins, J Dixon, A Hewitt; J Lewis, T Knoyle; B Harris, E Dee, L Brown, B Carter, M Screech, H Keddie (captain), T Basham, A Wainwright.
Replacements: R Hibbard, A Jarvis, L Fairbrother, J Davies, H Taylor, R Williams, A Owen, E Lloyd.
Scorer: penalty – J Lewis

Referee: Nigel Owens