Magners League
Jones steers Scarlets to victory
PA Sport
January 1, 2009
Report Match details
Date/Time: Jan 1, 2009, 17:15 local, 17:15 GMT
Venue: Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli
Scarlets 29 - 24 Dragons
Half-time: 10 - 17
Tries: John, King
Cons: SM Jones 2
Pens: SM Jones 5
Tries: Connor, Fussell 2
Cons: Connor 3
Pens: Connor
The Scarlets Stephen Jones holds onto the ball during their Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Northampton Saints at Frankllin's Gardens in Northampton, England on November 1, 2008.
Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones returned to Magners League action at Parc y Scarlets and slotted 19 points to carry his side to victory
© Getty Images
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Nineteen points from the boot of Wales fly-half Stephen Jones inspired the Scarlets to a 29-24 victory over the Dragons in their Magners League clash at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli.

The Scarlets welcomed back Jones and Matthew Rees, as well as regional captain Simon Easterby, who were all rested for the 20-6 defeat at the Ospreys last time out. The Dragons handed a debut to former Nottingham prop Nigel Hall. But they were without injured trio Luke Charteris, Joe Bearman and Rhodri Gomer-Davies.

There was only one side in it in the opening exchanges as the Scarlets breezed into a 10-0 lead after nine minutes as they produced some of their best rugby of the season.

First Regan King showed his class by rounding two tackles to go over on seven minutes for a converted try before Stephen Jones planted a penalty goal after scrum-half Martin Roberts had been high-tackled. A second try looked on the cards on 12 minutes but Jonathan Davies knocked on Mark Jones' kick ahead into the Dragons' 22.

But against the run of play the Dragons scored two converted tries through Fussell in the space of 11 minutes to take a 17-10 lead into the break. First Fussell slid in at the left corner after Shaun Connor had set his backline going with a long pass, and he was over in the same corner again after good work by Jamie Ringer.

Colin Charvis and Rhys Thomas both went close to scoring tries before Connor made it 17 unanswered points for the Dragons with a penalty in the final minute of the half.

But he missed a relatively easy penalty in the second minute after the break which would have given the Dragons a 10-point cushion. After that the Scarlets began a concerted comeback, which was started with a Stephen Jones penalty and continued with a try for prop Phil John just before the hour mark as the home side went into a 20-17 lead.

That advantage was extended with three more Jones penalties on 60, 64 and 68 minutes but just when the Scarlets thought they had the match in the bag Connor converted his own try to cut the lead to 29-24.

But the Scarlets held on in the last six minutes to secure the victory and get back to winning ways.

"We won the the game, we lost it, we won it then almost lost it again - it was a real rollercoaster," Scarlets coach Nigel Davies told BBC Sport. "It was very frustrating because we could have gone on to score maybe four tries in that game because we showed glimpses of what we could do."

Dragons boss Paul Turner was left to reflect on his side's second narrow loss in a week having been edged out by Cardiff Blues on Boxing Day. "I was extremely disappointed as yet again we made too many elementary errors in that third quarter of the game - and that is not the first time that has happened this season.

"It seems as if we don't like being in front for too long and that is where the and there were two or three instances where we kicked so poorly that we allowed the Scarlets back into the game where they were just about to disappear out of it. That was where the game was won, it wasn't through any exceptional play from them, just poor play from us."

Scarlets: Morgan Stoddart; Gareth Morris; Regan King, Jon Davies; Mark Jones; Stephen Jones, Martin Roberts; Phil John, Matthew Rees, Deacon Manu, Dominic Day, Simon Maling, Simon Easterby (c), Johnathan Edwards, David Lyons.

Replacements: Rhys Priestland for Stoddart (74), Darren Daniel for Morris (59), Lou Reed for Maling (61), D. Jones for Edwards (75). Not Used: Craig Cross, Mahonri Schwalger, Gavin Cattle.

Dragons: Jason Tovey; Gareth Wyatt, Rory Sidey, Ashley Smith, Richard Fussell; Shaun Connor, Wayne Evans; Nigel Hall, Tom Willis (capt), Rhys Thomas, Adam Jones, Hoani MacDonald, Jamie Ringer, Lewis Evans, Colin Charvis.

Replacements: Tom Isaacs for Evans (71), Adam Black for Hall (55), Steve Jones for Willis (55), Dan Lydiatt for Ringer (69). Not Used: Andrew Hall, Gareth Maule, Phillip Dolman.

Referee: James Jones (WRU)

Attendance: 7,050

© Scrum.com

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