Danny Wilson: Scarlets prop Samson Lee ready for European battle
SCARLETS forward coach Danny Wilson believes Samson Lee is ready to be thrown into the cauldron of European battle following the 19-year-old's man-of-the-match display against the Dragons.
Tight-head prop Lee produced a dominant scrummaging performance that delighted the Scarlets coaching team and would no doubt have heartened Wales coach Warren Gatland as he continues to search for a long-term successor to British Lion Adam Jones.
The Wales Under-20s prop, who made a big impression during the IRB Junior World Championship in the summer, helped dismantle the Dragons' set-piece to pave the way for a hard-earned 24-13 victory.
The win keeps the Scarlets in second place in the RaboDirect Pro12 table and afterwards Wilson admitted Lee had staked a powerful case to wear the No. 3 jersey in the Heineken Cup Pool 5 opener in Clermont on Saturday.
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"After that performance he would have to be considered," he said. "Even at 19 he has shown what he is capable of. Phil Price is no mug and is an experienced scrummager at this level, but Samson was extremely dominant.
"Everybody knows the potential in Samson and it was a case of whether he could step up to the next level.
"He is an outstanding prospect and it is important we nurture and keep developing that.
"He has got a great attitude to the game and to scrummaging and in Wales there are few tight-head props coming through who can go on and do what he is capable of doing."
A controversial first-half try from centre Gareth Maule — after television match official Gareth Simmonds had adjudged a penalty kick from fly-half Aled Thomas had not gone through the uprights when TV replays suggested it had — and a comeback score from Morgan Stoddart on his first appearance for 14 months, sealed an error-strewn victory for the West Walians in difficult conditions.
The Scarlets struggled to get any fluency in their game, but were a dominant force up front, putting constant pressure on the Dragons scrum and producing an immaculate line-out display.
"In the right areas it is a confidence booster for us," added Wilson.
"We were very disappointed with our Ospreys performance up front.
"We showed against the Dragons the response we demanded and the players demanded of themselves.
"We know Clermont is going to be a completely different challenge — Clermont will come at us in the areas we dominated against the Dragons.
"We know what we will be facing and will be working hard this week to meet those challenges head on."
On the same night as the Scarlets returned to winning ways, Clermont were beaten 16-13 at Castres in a French Top 14 clash.
However, the Vulcans will be firm favourites at their Stade Marcel Michelin fortress as they look to extend an incredible 47-match unbeaten run at their home ground.