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Llanelli Scarlets maintained their impressive Celtic League record at Stradey Park and dented Border Reivers’ hopes of Heineken Cup qualification with a 30-26 win on Saturday night.
The visitors were denied their first ever win on Welsh soil when the Scarlets’ Mark Jones crossed for the decisive score just four minutes from time.
The Reivers opened the scoring with a second-minute penalty but it was the Scarlets looked the livelier in the opening exchanges.
And the home side were rewarded for their efforts with a try from centre Regan King and then a penalty from Mike Hercus.
King grabbed his second five-pointer after 12 minutes when a good break and chip through from scrum-half Dwayne Peel created the opportunity.
Hercus added the extras to give the hosts a 15-3 lead with less than a quarter of an houron the clock.
But the visitors rallied before the break with two more penalties from MacRae.
The Scarlets settled the home crowd’s nerves after the re-start with a close range try from prop Craig Dunlea that was once again converted by Hercus.
But back came the Reivers again, back-row forward Kelly Brown grabbed the score after an incisive break from full-back Stuart Moffat.
Sensing a comeback was on the Reivers grabbed their second try ten minutes later when following a super cross-kick from Gregor Townsend, replacement Semo Setiti crossed.
Another Hercus penalty edged the Scarlets further ahead but the Reivers were on a roll and another excellent break from Moffat laid the platform for Charlie Hore to notch his side’s third try.
MacRae’s conversion put the Borders into the lead for the first time in the game and they could have taken a commanding grip on the game if Moffat had opted to pass rather than dummy when the threatened once more.
The crucial moment came inside the last five minutes of the game when Hercus intercepted the ball before feeding the speedster Jones who raced the length of the field to claim the try and thebonus point for his side to keep the Scarlets on course for next season’s Heineken Cup.