Heineken Cup Pool 4: Scarlets shock Harlequins at the Stoop
Last Updated: 12/10/13 6:27pm
Scarlets ran in three tries on their way to a thrilling 33-26 win at Harlequins to get their Heineken Cup campaign off to a flying start.
With two top French sides also in Pool 4, this home defeat could prove to be a mortal blow to Harlequins' hopes of a quarter-final berth even at this early stage.
It will be of no consolation at all to the Londoners that they played a full part in a gripping and high-quality contest.
Tries from Rhodri Williams after just seven minutes, on the stroke of half-time from Scott Williams and the match-winner courtesy of Jordan Williams' brilliant jinking burst down the touchline in the final quarter, plus 18 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland earned Scarlets a deserved win.
Quins replied with two tries from Mike Brown and 16 points from Nick Evans but ultimately paid the price for too many errors, particularly at the breakdown.
Only seven minutes had passed when the Scarlets ran in the opening try with a steal by Aaron Shingler at the back of a line-out beginning the move.
Space opened up on the right and it was expertly exploited by the Welsh region with Priestland delaying his pass until the crucial moment to enable Rhys Williams to sprint over.
The conversion by Priestland was followed by two penalties to leave Quins, who were struggling to gain any sort of foothold in the game, trailing 13-0 inside the opening quarter.
Nick Evans landed a penalty to briefly stem the flow of points, but when the Scarlets probed the right wing once more - this time through the marauding Shingler - their line was in danger of cracking for a second time.
Only last-ditch defending held the Scarlets up over the whitewash, but in the next passage of play Quins exploded into life with Brown leading the fightback.
The England full-back counter attacked from his own line with Danny Care and Tom Williams continuing the move until the cover arrived as the try beckoning.
Quins would not be denied in the 33rd minute, however, when Evans sent a crossfield kick to Nick Easter who gather and passed to Brown.
There was still work to do but Brown's finishing was clinical as he stepped inside the cover and raced home, with Evans converting.
Just as the Premiership club appeared to have clawed their way back into the game, the Scarlets struck again with a superb solo try from Scott Williams.
The inside centre, starting on the halfway line, darted between Ben Botica and Rob Buchanan and dummied Care before winning the race to the line. Priestland's conversion restored the 10-point lead.
Quins enjoyed a productive spell early in the second half when visiting prop Samson Lee was sent to the sin bin for stamping on Care and Evans sent a drop-goal between the uprights.
But even with the extra man, confusion and uncertainty returned to their ranks and after Priestland and Evans exchanged two penalties each, the Scarlets produced a third try.
Prop Joe Marler had the ball ripped from his grasp by Scott Williams and moments later wing Jordan Williams was racing down the left wing, evading four tackles with some twinkle-toed footwook before diving over with Priestland converting.
Brown responded with a brilliant solo finish of his own but Quins' final chance to salvage a draw was ended by a try-saving tackle from Liam Williams on Paul Sackey in the corner.