Pro14: Scarlets 5-34 Cardiff Blues

By Ceri Coleman-PhillipsBBC Sport Wales at Parc y Scarlets
Cardiff Blues fly-half Gareth Anscombe scored a try and kicked 14 points
Cardiff Blues fly-half Gareth Anscombe scored a try and kicked 14 points
Guinness Pro14: Scarlets v Cardiff Blues
Scarlets (5) 5
Try: McNicholl
Cardiff Blues (10) 34
Tries: L Williams, Lee-Lo 2, Anscombe Cons: Anscombe 4 Pens: Anscombe 2

Cardiff Blues crushed Scarlets' hopes of setting a new Pro14 record with a thrilling bonus-point win in Llanelli.

Tries from Lloyd Williams, Gareth Anscombe and a brace from Ray Lee-Lo brought Scarlets' 26-match unbeaten home run in the league to an end.

Anscombe added 14 points with the boot, with his late interception try wrapping up a fine evening for the visitors to claim all five points.

Scarlets' only score was Johnny McNicholl's first-half try.

Centre Kieron Fonotia and flanker James Davies added to Scarlets' injury woes, following the late withdrawal of Leigh Halfpenny before kick-off.

The Wales full-back was set to return on Saturday for the first time in seven weeks after a concussion suffered against Australia on 10 November.

Blues outside-half Gareth Anscombe had a flawless afternoon with the tee and drew first blood with a long-range penalty through the smoke.

His half-back partner Lloyd Williams, preferred this week to fellow Wales international Tomos Williams, extended the lead after finishing off a superb breakaway try.

There was some late deliberation between referee Nigel Owens and TMO Ian Davies, but wing Blaine Scully was deemed not to be in touch before offloading to Williams, much to the disagreement of the home fans.

Scarlets hit back almost immediately from the restart, when number eight Will Boyde latched onto a loose box kick before skilfully passing out the back door to full-back McNicholl who showed his pace to cross the line.

Wing Tom Prydie, who was on goal-kicking duty in the absence of Halfpenny and Rhys Patchell, was wide with the conversion attempt.

Cardiff Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams dives over to score a try
Cardiff Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams dives over to score a try

In-form Scarlets centre Fonotia was forced off with an elbow injury before the break, with Dan Jones coming on at outside-half and Hadleigh Parkes, who had started his second consecutive game at 10, moving to partner Jonathan Davies in midfield.

Scarlets had another chance to go ahead, but McNicholl's pass to support runner Prydie went straight into touch to leave Blues with a five-point advantage at half-time.

The home side were further weakened when Wales flanker Davies did not return from the dressing rooms, having suffered a suspected reoccurrence of a foot injury.

Scarlets continued to enjoy the majority of territory and possession in the second half and showed intent by opting for touch instead of the posts when penalties were awarded - something they would come to regret at the final whistle.

But poor decision-making and a determined defence meant they left the Blues' 22 again with nothing to show for their efforts.

Blues demonstrated how dangerous they can be on the counter, with centre Lee-Lo outpacing his opposite number Jonathan Davies to the line.

Lee-Lo went on to score his second try of the game as many Scarlets fans headed for an early exit, while an interception try from Anscombe in the dying minutes claimed the bonus point.

Blues remain fifth in Conference A, while Scarlets have dropped to fourth in Conference B.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: "We're clearly disappointed.

"The defence from the Blues was very impressive and at the end of the day they thoroughly deserved their win."

Blues head coach John Mulvihill said: "The significance and importance of five points against four is massive in the context of the whole season.

"It keeps us in the mix and it keeps it interesting. We had to win tonight but if you said we'd win with a bonus point I'd have said you were away with the fairies"

Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Prydie, Jonathan Davies, Kieron Fonotia, Paul Asquith; Hadleigh Parkes, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Ken Owens (capt), Samson Lee, Josh Helps, David Bulbring, Ed Kennedy, James Davies, Will Boyde.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, Tom Price, Dan Davis, Kieran Hardy, Dan Jones, Ioan Nicholas.

Cardiff Blues: Dan Fish; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Garyn Smith; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kristian Dacey (capt), Dillon Lewis, George Earle, Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull, Josh Navidi, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Corey Domachowski, Dmitri Arhip, James Down, Olly Robinson, Tomos Williams, Steve Shingler, Matthew Morgan.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

AR1: Craig Evans (WRU). AR2: Adam Jones (WRU)

TMO: Ian Davies (WRU)

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