Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Scarlets and Racing share spoils

Rhys Priestland kicked 16 points in Scarlets' 26-26 draw with Racing Metro

Fly-halves Rhys Priestland and Jonny Sexton kicked 16 points apiece as Scarlets and Racing Metro shared the spoils in their Heineken Cup Pool Four clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Both sides also scored two tries each with Scott Williams and Rhodri Williams going over in the first half as the home side led 20-10 at half time with two Racing players in the sin-bin.

Racing's tries came in each half from Wenceslas Lauret and Sakiusa Matadigo as the game finished in a 26-26 draw.

The French Top 14 side had a second try for Lauret ruled out in the 81st minute after the Television Match Official confirmed a knock-on in the build up.

The Scarlets had been hopeful of a second straight Pool victory after their 33-26 win at Harlequins last week.

However, they did not make the most of a good territorial start with Priestland wayward with two kickable penalties on two and five minutes.

Racing had a golden chance of a try when lock Juandre Kruger intercepted but despite a fine cross-kick from Sexton, the French side could not convert the chance.

But Racing still managed to punish the home side for failing to get on the scoreboard by rattling up 10 points in the space of six minutes.

Openside flanker Lauret pounced as the Scarlets made a mess of a scrum on their own five-metre line. Racing fly-half Sexton converted and then added a penalty after prop Phil John was caught tackling a man without the ball.

But gradually Scarlets got back on level terms with Priestland kicking a penalty - the hardest of his opening three chances - before in-form centre Scott Williams raced over for a converted try after good work by Jonathan Davies and Nic Reynolds.

Like Scarlets, Racing suffered a bad spell during which they had both skipper Dimitri Szarzewski and replacement centre Fabrice Estebanez sin-binned.

First the usually accurate Sexton missed a penalty and that was followed by Szarzewski being yellow-carded for failing to release the tackled player at a ruck.

Priestland kicked the resulting penalty before Estabenez followed his captain to the sidelines after being spotted punching Scott Williams by the TMO.

And with two more men Scarlets took advantage when Rhodri Williams skipped over for the region's second converted try from a drive from a line-out to see the home side take a 20-10 lead into half-time at the break.

Scarlets boosted their advantage with a third Priestland penalty four minutes into the second half.

Back up to a full complement, Racing began to chip away at Scarlets' lead. Sexton kicked his second penalty and that was followed by number eight Matadigo going over following a five-metre scrum, a score converted by Sexton.

And as Scarlets' line-out began to fail Sexton drew Racing back level at 23-23 with a fourth penalty on the hour mark.

Further penalties from Priestland and Sexton kept the contest a very tight affair going into the final 10 minutes.

Racing looked like they had taken a giant step towards victory when a maul earned them a penalty, but Sexton missed the target with his 73rd minute effort.

Racing looked as if they might steal a win but Lauret's late try was ruled out because of a Sexton knock-on.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk