Pro14: Scarlets 41-17 Benetton

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Sam Costelow scored on a rare start before being forced off with an ankle injury
Scarlets (26) 41
Tries: J Morgan (2), Costelow, Blacker, Kalamafoni, Asquith Pen: Jones Cons: S Evans (3) Jones (2)
Benetton (3) 17
Tries: Sarto, Els Pen: Allan Cons: Padovani (2)

Scarlets completed the Italian job over a poor Benetton side to keep their European Champions Cup qualification hopes alive.

It was a welcome return to winning ways for Glenn Delaney’s side, having fallen off the pace since the turn of the year.

They had the bonus point wrapped up in half an hour with the visitors seeing two yellow cards.

Returning flanker Jac Morgan impressed with two of Scarlets’ six tries.

Benetton did show some fight after the break, but the damage had long been done.

The result sees Scarlets leapfrog Cardiff Blues to third in the Pro14’s Conference B, while Benetton remain rooted to the bottom having lost 11 from 11.

Like their Llanelli hosts, Benetton lost almost an entire team to their national side for the Six Nations, but were boosted by the release of Italy fly-half Tommaso Allan.

And despite him kicking an early penalty, his presence was short lived with injury forcing him off in the first half.

Scarlets showed early intent, turning down a kickable penalty in favour of a driving lineout, which almost paid off when returning Wales hooker Ryan Elias was repelled just short of the line.

But they showed good patience to recycle the ball, with Morgan shrugging off defenders to cross for the opening try. It was the 21-year-old’s first start since suffering a knee injury against Bath in December.

The five metre lineouts kept coming for the Scarlets and Elias got the right side of the whitewash, but celebrations were short lived when the TMO ruled he had been held up.

It seemed almost fortunate fans were not in attendance at Parc y Scarlets for the succession of Benetton infringements and collapsed scrums that followed.

Referee Dan Jones finally lost patience, showing hooker Tomas Baravalle a yellow card, with prop Tiziano Pasquali keeping him company in the sin bin soon after.

From then on it was one-way traffic. Pasquali had not even put his subs coat on when Sam Costelow darted through the gaping hole in Benetton’s defence to extends Scarlets’ lead.

Winger Steff Evans took the conversion while Costelow received treatment, an ankle injury which would later see him replaced by Dan Jones. It was a disappointing end on a rare start for the former Wales under-20s star.

Sensing blood, Scarlets began to ship the ball across the park and found Morgan in space on the touchline. He showed footwork a winger would have been proud of to beat the tackle, step inside and cross under the posts.

The onslaught continued soon after the restart, Dane Blacker latching onto a hack through from Johnny McNicholl.

Head coach Keiron Crowley must have had stern words as Benetton were transformed after the break.

Winger Angelo Epsosito looked to have scored from a superb breakaway, but a knock-on in the build up cancelled his effort.

They did get their reward from the other flank soon after, with Leonardo Sarto touching down for nothing less than Benetton deserved.

Scarlets eventually found their way back into the game, but as the rain swept in and replacements came on, they appeared disjointed and opted to kick for posts, with Dan Jones steadying the ship.

Confidence followed, centre Tyler Morgan came agonisingly close to crossing after cutting through the defence, before Sione Kalamafoni cleaned up to score on his return after suffering a head knock against Cardiff Blues last month.

To their credit, Benetton hit straight back with Cornelius Els scoring from a driving maul, but it was Scarlets who had the final say, Paul Asquith finishing off a typical Johnny McNicholl break.

Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney told BBC Sport Wales: “We set the game up really nicely in the first half, the set piece was going incredibly well and that led to territory which meant we could control the game.

“They are a tough team to break down, we have a lot of respect for them, we knew we were going to have to work hard and that’s what we did.

“The great news for us is the only bit of the game we’re going to review is the second half.

“We worked incredibly hard for three weeks and we got a reward for that.

“That’s all you want, the boys to work hard, get on the field, be tested (which we were today) and come off with a reward.”

Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Ryan Conbeer, Tyler Morgan, Steff Hughes (c), Steff Evans; Sam Costelow, Dane Blacker; Phil Price, Ryan Elias, Javan Sebastian, Jake Ball, Morgan Jones, Uzair Cassiem, Jac Morgan, Sione Kalamafoni.

Replacements: Marc Jones, Steff Thomas, Pieter Scholtz, Sam Lousi, Ed Kennedy, Will Homer, Dan Jones, Paul Asquith.

Benetton: Jayden Hayward; Angelo Esposito, Joaquin Riera, Luca Morisi, Leonardo Sarto; Tomasso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage (c); Thomas Gallo, Tomas Baravalle, Tiziano Pasquali, Irne Herbst, Eli Snyman, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Riccardo Favretto.

Replacements: Corniel Els, Nicola Quaglio, Ivan Nemer, Matteo Canali, Alberto Sgarbi, Davide Ruggeri, Callum Braley, Edoardo Padovani.

Referee: Dan Jones (WRU)

Assistant Referees: Ben Whitehouse (WRU) and Elgan Williams (WRU)

TMO: Jon Mason (WRU).



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