RaboDirect Pro12: Scarlets end season with win against Cardiff
Last Updated: 10/05/14 10:24pm
Jonathan Davies: Scarlets centre leaving for Clermont Auvergne
Wales and British Lions centre Jonathan Davies was given a winning send-off as Scarlets beat Cardiff Blues 27-15.
Davies, who is joining French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne in the summer, helped his home region sign off with a hard-earned victory at Parc y Scarlets in an entertaining RaboDirect Pro12 finale.
There was to be no try-scoring finale for one of the world's finest centres, but the skipper will be delighted with the way his side saw off the challenge of a committed Blues team to end the season on a triumphant note.
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The only thing to mar the night was an injury to fly-half Rhys Priestland, who had to be helped off the field late on with a leg injury, which could threaten his place on Wales's tour party to South Africa this summer.
The Scarlets were led out by Davies and flanker Josh Turnbull, who is joining the Blues next term, while there was also a nice ovation for former Scarlets skipper Matthew Rees, who was leading out the Blues on his first appearance back in Llanelli since his move last summer.
The home side, looking to avenge their defeat to the Blues at the Millennium Stadium earlier in the season, started with real intent, but Priestland pushed an early penalty wide.
Their pressure was rewarded, though, with the game's opening try on 16 minutes.
A deft offload by Priestland put lock Jake Ball rampaging into the 22 and the Wales international timed his inside pass to perfection to send scrum-half Rhodri Williams racing in under the posts. Priestland landed the simple conversion, but the Blues' response was swift.
A couple of thunderous charges from prop Tau Filise dented the Scarlets defence and although full-back Liam Williams did brilliantly to track back and deny his opposite number Dan Fish, the ball was spread for flanker Macauley Cook to dive in at the corner.
Humberstone was wide with the conversion, but moments later, was on target with a penalty to hand his side the lead.
It was just reward for a Blues side brimming with confidence following their recent four-match winning run and the visitors came close to adding to their lead, only for scrum-half Lewis Jones to be hauled down by lock Johan Snyman a couple of yards out.
Jones then turned from attacker to defender to help deny opposite number Williams his second try after great interplay between Kristian Phillips and Liam Williams out wide.
Both sides were buying into the end-of-season fare, which made for an entertaining first half and it was the Scarlets who led at the break thanks to a long-range Priestland penalty on the stroke of half-time.
And the home advantage was extended four minutes after the restart thanks to a superb individual effort by man-of-the-match Williams, converted by Steve Shingler.
The Wales full-back, back from a two-week suspension, almost claimed a second, but the ball was knocked out of his grasp with the line beckoning.
But if the Scarlets felt they were starting to take a grip on proceedings, the Blues had other ideas and were right back in the contest with a penalty try after 53 minutes.
The visitors' eight got some steam up at a driving line-out, only to be hauled down on the try line. The television match official was unable to find a try-scorer, but referee Ian Davies adjudged the maul had been brought to ground illegally and headed between the posts.
At 17-15 it was anyone's game, but a Shingler penalty gave the home side some breathing space before the centre raced over for his side's third try, which he also converted, to seal the win.