Pro14: Scarlets 12-9 Ospreys
|Scarlets (5) 12|
|Tries: S Evans, Macleod Con: Halfpenny|
|Ospreys (3) 9|
|Pens: S Davies 3|
Fourteen-man Scarlets scored an extraordinary injury time try by Josh Macleod to beat Ospreys in the Boxing Day Pro14 west Wales derby.
The hosts were leading 5-0 through Steff Evans when the try-scorer was sent off for an aerial challenge on rival wing Ben John after 37 minutes.
Fly-half Sam Davies proceeded to kick Ospreys into a 9-5 lead.
But with the clock red, replacement Macleod latched on to Scott Williams' cross-kick to clinch the points.
Ospreys failed to make their numerical advantage tell and when Scarlets produced a powerful scrummage to drive the visitors off their own put-in, they paid the ultimate price.
It was a remarkable show of resilience and determination by the Scarlets, which saw them reclaim top spot in Conference B after they had been knocked off by Leinster earlier in the day.
It also preserved a 15-match unbeaten home record in the league going back to 3 September 2016.
Referee Ian Davies had little option but to show Evans a red card on 36 minutes, after he upended John jumping high for a cross-field kick - although it looked more clumsy than deliberate.
The incident marked the end of the match for both players as John - having landed heavily on his head - failed a head injury assessment.
The defeat means Ospreys have won only two games in the Pro14 this season and remain bottom of Conference A.
On a filthy night in Llanelli, Scarlets failed to take advantage of their early dominance thanks in no small part to an uncharacteristically wayward place-kicking display by Leigh Halfpenny, who missed three penalties and the conversion of Evans' try in the opening 20 minutes.
They were also thwarted by a knock-on by centre Hadleigh Parkes with the try line at his mercy.
In fairness he was not alone in having difficulty with the freezing, wet conditions.
Ashley Beck's knock-on in the Ospreys in-goal area gave Scarlets the five-metre scrum from which Evans finished brilliantly for the home team's opening try.
Visiting scrum-half Rhys Webb was also guilty of a series of handling errors.
But with Ospreys' pack gaining in confidence and success it was they who finished the half the stronger, with Evans' dismissal and Sam Davies' penalty narrowing the gap to two points at the break.
Two routine penalties by Davies put the Ospreys four points ahead, but they never really threatened the home tryline and having failed to open a bigger lead they were ultimately punished.
At a region proud of its folklore and history, the 78th-minute scrummage that won possession back from the Ospreys is likely to earn a place in the Parc y Scarlets hall of fame.
And the clinching try - accompanied by a triumphant roar from a delirious home crowd of more than 14,000 who braved the cold - was as dramatic an ending as you could hope for.
Halfpenny finally found his range with the touchline conversion to another rousing cheer.
Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac: "The last scrum was obviously going to have to be a big play, we had a fresh front row there and to turn that ball over gave us the opportunity and from there just great composure and some great skill.
"It was a great kick by Scott Williams and for Josh Macleod - a young guy out on the wing - he was hoping that ball was going to get to him a bit quicker, but it was a great finish and obviously we were really relieved to get that win.
"[The red card tackle] was reckless, dangerous, call it what you will. It was clumsy and I've got no complaints about that. Steff clearly wasn't trying to take him out but in those conditions if you commit too early you can't put the brakes on."
Ospreys coach Steve Tandy: "It's pretty disappointing losing that game. I thought tactically in the second half we were pretty good. We were in control, we felt we had the scrum and we could see the game out from there.
"But in fairness the Scarlets came back and they kept playing and got the try.
"I thought some of our scrum stuff was pretty decent until the last one. On reflection we just nudged the game but we didn't get the win. The conditions were awful."
Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny; Johnny McNicholl, Hadleigh Parkes, Scott Williams, Steff Evans; Dan Jones, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens (capt), Werner Kruger, Tadhg Beirne, David Bulbring, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay.
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Simon Gardiner, Steve Cummins, Josh Macleod, Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell, Paul Asquith.
Ospreys: Dan Evans; Ben John, Ashley Beck, Owen Watkin, Jeff Hassler; Sam Davies, Rhys Webb; Nicky Smith, Scott Baldwin, Dmitri Arhip, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Olly Cracknell.
Replacements: Scott Otten, Paul James, Ma'afu Fia, Adam Beard, Rob McCusker, Tom Habberfield, Dan Biggar, Hanno Dirksen.
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Assistant referees: Ben Whitehouse (WRU), Craig Evans (WRU)
TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)
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