Scarlets v Dragons, RaboDirect PRO12
Jones steers Scarlets home
November 25, 2011
Veteran playmaker Stephen Jones landed five penalties and conversion in his side's latest league victory
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Stephen Jones celebrated his 300th appearance for the Scarlets by slotting five penalties and a conversion in his side's 22-12 victory over the Dragons in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Parc y Scarlets. The Scarlets victory, with 17 points for Jones and a try for prop Rhys Thomas, took them up to sixth place in the table.
Both sides went into the match stripped of a raft of internationals. Scarlets were without seven players in Wales' squad preparing for the Australia Test at the Millennium Stadium on December 3 but were captained by Stephen Jones on his landmark appearance.
Stephen Jones, who was dropped by Wales coach Warren Gatland, chose to play for the Scarlets rather than the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham tomorrow. Similarly Ashley Smith was captaining the Dragons, who were without five Wales squad players, in his 100th game for the region.
Though the Dragons had the better of the first half they trailed at half-time 16-6 to a final minute try for Rhys Thomas, who crashed over after replacement centre Viliame Iongi had followed up a cross kick from Stephen Jones.
Stephen Jones and Jason Tovey swapped penalties in the opening five minutes as both openside flankers Gavin Thomas and Johnathan Edwards committed offences at rucks. The Dragons, helped that the Scarlets were struggling at the line-out, made the better early chances and it took a good tackle by Gareth Maule to stop wing Aled Brew going in at the left corner.
Stephen Jones put the Scarlets six points into the lead with penalties on 18 and 31 minutes despite the Dragons often looking the more dangerous. Tovey did get a penalty back and should have had a chance to draw the scores level but the Dragons kicked for the corner only to see the Scarlets go up the other end to score the only try of the half.
A scrappy second half began with Tovey kicking his third penalty to reduce the deficit to seven points. But Stephen Jones cancelled that out 12 minutes from time after Dragons back-rower was sin-binned for slowing up ball at a ruck in front of his own posts.
Dragons replacement fly-half Steffan Jones and Stephen Jones swapped penalties in the space of three minutes as neither side looked like scoring a try in the second half. And Steffan Jones missed a last minute drop goal which denied the Dragons a losing bonus point.
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