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Champions Llanelli Scarlets carried on where they left off last season with this bonus point victory at Netherdale in the first round match of the Celtic League.
When Scott Quinnell was penalised in the 10th minute it looked as though Borders new fly half New Zealander Charlie Hore, may put the first points on the board for the home team. Unfortunately his kick bounced off the posts, was cleared to touch and when Borders lost the ensuing line out Scarlets big winger Salesi Finau was off down the right wing, outstripping full back Gareth Morton to score at the other end of the field. Gareth Bowen, who has taken over the number 10 shirt from Stephen Jones, slotted over the conversion for the extra two points.
Borders hit back with a good break from Nikki Walker, but Scarlets took control again after gaining a penalty midway inside Borders half. Their forwards took control and pressurised the Borders line, lock Chris Wyatt eventually crashing over for the try. Bowen’s second conversion left the scores 0-14.
The Scarlets third try came within the half hour, Jon Thiel making the original run and finding the gap for prop Gavin Thomas to touch down. Bowen again added the two points, all three of his conversions coming from the touchline.
Things did not improve for Borders as the referee Mr McDowell finally lost patience with the number of penalties he had awarded and carded No.8 Mark Blair. Borders showed some resilience by not conceding any points whilst they were down to 14 men, in fact they had an opportunity of points of their own, Hore missing his second penalty of the night. When Scott Quinnell was penalised for holding on 3 minutes into injury time, Borders by now restored to 15 players, changed kicker but full back Gareth Morton could not find the posts either.
Borders came out much better in the second half and their efforts were justly rewarded when Stuart Moffat intercepted a flat pass and fended off two defenders to charge 40 metres upfield to touch down for Borders first points. The Scarlets made a number of changes, which affected the flow of their game, Borders coming more into play. Finally Hore claimed his first points with a 64th minute penalty, 8-21 into the game with a penalty.
In the final ten minutes Scarlets’ scrum half Dwayne Peel had to leave the field and stand off Arwel Thomas took over, Llanelli Scarlets were awarded a penalty 4 metres out and opted for the scrum. Man of the match, Scott Quinnell, picked up form the base and offloaded the ball for Simon Easterby to go over for the simplest of tries.
Borders managed to finish off with a flourish, Charlie Cusiter sniping over the line for an injury time try, Charlie Hore adding the conversion, leaving the home side to regret what might have been had all their kicks been successful on the night.