A spirited second half fightback from Newport Gwent Dragons couldn’t prevent the home side going down to the Scarlets 14-27 in the first Welsh derby of the season at Rodney Parade.
This was a classic derby match characterised by huge physicality from both sets of players. But it was the visitors who looked the more threatening from the off, cutting the Dragons defence to ribbons several times in a superb first half performance, to lead 3-24 at half time despite a couple of yellow cards.
Yet it was the Dragons who had settled first, with Matthew Jones slotted over an early penalty after six minutes. But some poor defending allowed wing George North answer for the Scarlets with a try with the next play and Stephen Jones converted to put the west Walians ahead 3-7.
The Dragons’ woes were compounded minutes later when Robin Sowden Taylor was sinbinned for not rolling away and from the resultant penalty, Stephen Jones kicked the Scarlets into a 3-10 lead.
Tries for Jonathan Davies and Matthew Rees, allied to the boot of Stephen Jones left the Rodney Parade side trailing 24-3 at half time, although the fact that the Scarlets finished the half with thirteen men gave the vociferous Rodney Parade crowd a flicker of hope.
The opening minutes of second half brought a much improved performance from the home side. Indeed, the Dragons were perhaps unfortunate not to score when Gavin Thomas lost the ball before he could ground it behind the tryline.
Two penalties from Matthew Jones gave the crowd further grounds for optimism before a well taken try by Will Harries and another yellow card for the Scarlets brought the Dragons back into contention at 14-24 with 15 minutes to go.
Yet the first half deficit proved a bridge too far for the home side and when Stephen Jones kicked another penalty to make 14-27, the game was out of reach.