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League rugby arrived in Wrexham for the first time yesterday, and fans used to 1-0 scorelines must have wondered what was going on as the Scarlets ran up a 25-6 lead by halftime at the Racecourse.
The Stradey Park side went into the match as hot favourites against a
Borders side with only one win to their name, but had to dig deep as four forwards were injured in the opening hour of the match. Talented young scrum-half Mike Phillips had to pack down in the backrow for the final 15 minutes.
Borders fullback Gareth Morton slotted the first Celtic League points at the Racecourse with a third-minute penalty goal, but a great run from under-rated winger Richard Rees set up a Scarlets’ forward drive and hooker Aled Gravelle emerged from the pile-up with the five points.
Gareth Bowen continued his fine season with a sideline conversion and took his team’s tally to 10 points in as many minutes as it started to look like being a long afternoon for the League’s cellar dwellers.
A clever cut-out pass from Watkins put fullback Barry Davies in acres of space and winger Tal Selley was on hand to take the pop-up pass for his fifth try of the season.
Bowen, the League’s top points-scorer, twisted the knife with a penalty goal from the halfway line, and Quinnell powered over from close range after Morton was yellow-carded for taking Bowen out late.
Morton arrived back on the field in time to double his team’s score with a second penalty goal, but it was all uphill for the Scottish side as they went into the break down 6-25.
Rees earned his team’s first bonus point of the season with a well-taken try, but five-pointers to Borders prop George Graham and scrum-half Chris Cusiter narrowed the margin as the Scarlets ‘ injuries began to bite.