Scarlets win eight-try thriller despite superb second-half rally from Bulls
Scarlets secured an impressive 37-28 home victory over the third-placed Bulls in a thrilling game of eight tries.
The hosts led 27-7 at one stage but a superb second-half rally from the South Africans saw them nearly snatch a United Rugby Championship win at Parc-y-Scarlets.
Dan Davis, Kemsley Mathias, Gareth Davies and Johnny McNicholl scored tries for Scarlets, with Sam Costelow kicking three penalties and three conversions while Dan Jones also made his kick count.
Stravino Jacobs, Zak Burger, Cyle Brink and Simphiwe Matanzima scored Bulls’ tries, with Chris Smith converting all four.
A penalty from Costelow gave Scarlets an early lead but Bulls soon replied with the opening try.
From the restart the hosts lost possession to allow Bulls to exert a period of pressure before Burger darted over from close range.
Scarlets’ response was swift as first Davis evaded a defender to crash over before the flanker created another try by winning a crucial turnover.
That enabled the home side to secure a five-metre scrum from where Mathias forced his way over, with a second conversion from Costelow giving his side a 17-7 lead at the end of a lively first quarter.
Worse was to follow for the South Africans when they lost possession in the opposition half for Dafydd Hughes to burst away.
When the ball was recycled an alert Costelow booted the ball downfield, with Davies easily winning the race to collect and touch down.
Costelow converted and added a penalty before his side suffered a blow when centre Joe Roberts was sin-binned for a deliberate offside.
Bulls immediately capitalised when a cross-field kick from Smith was collected by Jacobs to score with Smith’s conversion, leaving his side 27-14 adrift at the interval.
Three minutes after the restart, Roberts returned in time to see Costelow extend the advantage with his third penalty before Bulls remained in contention with a converted try from Brink.
Bulls continued their comeback with a bonus-point try from replacement Matanzima but twice they elected for driving line-outs when a successful kick at goal would have put them in the lead.
The decisions proved costly as Scarlets broke out. Lionel Mapoe was yellow-carded for a late challenge and the hosts clinched victory with a try from McNicholl.
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