European Champions Cup: Benetton Rugby 12-31 Scarlets

Gareth Davies smiles as he prepares to touch down for his first try against Benetton in Treviso
Man of the match Gareth Davies scored tries either side of half-time to help clinch a bonus point for Scarlets
European Champions Cup Pool 5
Benetton (0) 12
Tries: Ioane 2 Cons: McKinley
Scarlets (24) 31
Tries: McNicholl, Asquith, G Davies 2 Cons: Halfpenny 4 Pens: Halfpenny

Scarlets re-invigorated their Champions Cup campaign with a dominant bonus-point win against Benetton in Treviso.

A week after struggling to beat a 14-man Benetton side, they scored four tries in the wintry Italian sun.

Two touchdowns by Gareth Davies and one each for Johnny McNicholl and Paul Asquith secured the bonus point inside 44 minutes.

Monty Ioane's tries were a consolation as Scarlets briefly moved top of Pool 5 before Bath's 26-21 win over Toulon.

Toulon's losing bonus point meant Scarlets dropping back to third in the table, butn they are only a point behind the English and French clubs.

The day's results set up big matches in January when Scarlets face Bath at the Recreation Ground and then host Toulon.

It was also a major improvement on their display at home to Benetton when they needed a last-minute try to clinch a 33-28 win.

Disrupted preparation

If Scarlets' preparations were disrupted by a flight cancellation which meant they arrived at their team hotel close to midnight on the eve of the match, they showed little sign of it in the opening half.

Their clever kicking tactic exploited a huge gap between Benetton's first line of defence and full-back Jayden Hayward to good effect.

It led directly to their opening two tries for McNicholl after Asquith had gathered and passed the ball and then for Asquith after McNicholl returned the compliment.

Johnny McNicholl puffs out his cheeks as he dives over for Scarlets' first try in Treviso
Johnny McNicholl dives over for Scarlets' opening try

When Gareth Davies darted over from a close-range scrum just before the interval the only question outstanding was whether the Welsh region could harvest a bonus point.

It took less than four minutes for Davies to provide the answer as he crossed for his second try.

The match deteriorated from that point with Ioane profiting with two tries - one in each corner - in the final five minutes.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac: "Last week we weren't happy with our defence and our lack of physicality defensively and that was the focus throughout the week and to be fair at 31-0 and the game done and dusted it was job done really.

"Today was about keeping the competition alive. This is the one we really wanted to nail and put in a good performance not just for the travelling supporters but for the supporters back home. We look forward now to travelling to Bath which is going to be a big occasion."

CHAMPIONS CUP POOL 5
TeamPlayedWonDrawnLostForAgainstBonus PtsPoints
Bath43018758113
Toulon43019695113
Scarlets42029779412
Benetton40046911733

Scarlets: Halfpenny; McNicholl, Asquith, Williams, S Evans; Jones, G Davies; R Evans, Owens (capt), Kruger, Cummins, Bulbring, Beirne, J Davies, Boyde

Replacements: Elias, Jones, Gardiner, Helps, Macleod, A Davies, Parkes, Hughes

Benetton Rugby: Hayward; Esposito, Benvenuti, Morisi, Ioane; Allan, Tebaldi: Zani, Bigi, Pasquali, Zanni, Budd (capt), Negri, Steyn, Manu

Replacements: Baravalle, Quaglio, Traore, Ruzza, Barbini, Gori, McKinley, Brex

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Assistant referees: Cyril Lafon (France), Francois Bouzac (France)

TMO: Brian MacNiece (Ireland)

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