Scarlets send Stradey off in style
October 24, 2008
The Scarlets secured the perfect send-off for Stradey Park
© Getty Images
The Scarlets made a winning farewell to Stradey Park as they went to the top of Anglo-Welsh Cup Group D with a three-try success over Bristol.
After 129 years at Stradey, this was the west Wales region's last home match before they move two miles down the road to their new ground at Parc y Scarlets next month. It was a comprehensive win which was just missing a fourth try and a bonus point.
The Scarlets fielded a side showing four changes from the team that went down 37-15 to Stade Francais in Paris last Saturday. Bristol selected a mostly second-string outfit with only wing Lee Robinson keeping his place from the starting line-up which beat Toulon last Friday - their first victory of the season.
Prop Darren Crompton and full-back Anthony Elliott made their first starts of the season after recovering from injury. The emotional evening for the Scarlets began with a parade of surviving Stradey Park captains including Phil Bennett, who celebrated his 60th birthday today.
The match began with a try that the occasion demanded when the impressive Regan King went on an arcing run down the right and put Morgan Stoddart over for the first try on three minutes.
But after that, although the Scarlets had the better platform, the first half rather lost its way. It took a Stephen Jones penalty goal on 16 minutes from a ruck to extend the Scarlets' lead to 10-0.
But it was Bristol through a counter-attack from scrum-half Haydn Thomas and wing Lee Robinson who looked likely to score next until the Scarlets' cover defence regrouped.
In the dying minutes of the half, a concerted break by Wales wing Mark Jones set up a position from which captain Simon Easterby scored a try, awarded after a referral to the television match official. Stephen Jones converted to give his side a 17-0 interval lead.
It was Jones who also put points on the board first in the second half with a 49th-minute penalty from in front of the posts. Stoddart thought he might have had a second try down the right but the score was ruled out for a foot in touch. But the full-back made amends, sending Rob Higgitt over for a try against his former club.
There was a worry for Wales when Mark Jones limped off after injuring himself going close to scoring the Scarlets' fourth try after 67 minutes. The Scarlets had an abundance of chances to grab the bonus-point try, especially through runs down the right by Stoddart, but failed to get the score which would have given them an extra cushion at the top of Group D.
Scarlets (17) 27 Bristol (0) 0
Scarlets: Tries: Stoddart, Easterby, Higgitt. Cons: S. Jones 3. Pens: S. Jones 2.
Scarlets: Stoddart, Higgitt, King, G. Evans, M. Jones, S. Jones, Martens, I. Thomas, Owen, Meeuws, Cooper, Day, N. Thomas, Easterby, Lyons.
Replacements: Davies for G. Evans (62), C. Thomas for M. Jones (67), Roberts for Martens (59), Rees for Owen (53), John for Meeuws (53), D. Jones for Cooper (41) Not Used: J. Edwards.
Bristol: Elliott, Robinson, Eves, Fatialofa, Turner, Ashwin, Thomas, Irish, Linklater, Crompton, Sambucetti, Sidoli, Salter, R. Pennycook, Blowers.
Replacements: Maggs for Fatialofa (58), Alford for Thomas (66), Blaney for Linklater (62), Bracken for Crompton (64), C. Pennycook for Blowers (64). Not Used: Attwood, Barden.
Att: 10,800 Ref: David Boddily (Cardiff).