Unbeaten Glasgow return to top after seeing off Scarlets in Llanelli
By Robert Lloyd at Parc y Scarlets
ON a day when the All Blacks and South Africa lit up world rugby, the Scarlets struggled to find their spark as they fell to a 17-12 defeat to unbeaten Pro12 leaders Glasgow at Parc y Scarlets.
It was a lacklustre display from Simon Easterby’s side whose attacking game spluttered throughout an error-strewn 80 minutes.
After trailing 14-6 they did haul themselves back into the contest early in the second half.
But a couple of opportunities went begging and despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession and the Warriors having two players sin-binned, the Scarlets couldn’t take advantage.
Close-range tries by British Lions prop Ryan Grant and lock Tim Swinson ensured Glasgow enjoyed a 14-6 advantage after the opening 40 minutes.
The Scarlets could have little complaint with that scoreline after a half of rugby in which they barely threatened the Glasgow line.
Fly-half Rhys Priestland landed two penalties and while the scrum was again a powerful force, the Scarlets were outshone by the Warriors with the ball in hand.
At the heart of it was Fijian magician Niko Matawalu, playing out of position on the right wing.
It was his quick tap after just a couple of minutes that led to Grant burrowing over from a yard out.
Priestland pulled a penalty back after strong work from No. 8 Rob McCusker, but Glasgow took a firm grip on proceedings when Swinson twisted over to reward more pressure from the Scots.
Weir again added the conversion and the Scarlets were indebted to their scrum and a long-range penalty from Priestland to reduce the arrears to eight points at the interval.
A third Priestland penalty made it 14-9 just a minute after the restart then the Scarlets almost claimed their opening try.
A clever cross-kick from Priestland caused panic in the Glasgow defence, but Jordan Williams opted to off-load to full-back Liam Williams when the gap opened up for him to score just a couple of yards out.
With Priestland being treated for a knock, Jordan Williams stepped up to land a sweetly-struck penalty to make it 14-12 and with Sean Lamont yellow carded against his former side, opportunity was knocking for the Scarlets.
However, the Warriors, with an improved scrum, dug deep and Weir struck a penalty wide from wide out to make it 17-12.
Matawalu was sin-binned for a stamp with five minutes to go, but the Scarlets were unable to take advantage as the unbeaten Warriors’ returned to the summit of the Pro12 table.