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Scarlets boost Champions Cup hopes


Ken Owen scored the only try 15 minutes from the end

Ken Owen scored the only try 15 minutes from the end

Ken Owen scored the only try 15 minutes from the end

Captain Ken Owens scored the only try of a scrappy match to help Scarlets register a crucial Guinness Pro12 derby victory over Cardiff Blues at Parc y Scarlets.

The win lifted the west Wales region into sixth place in the league to boost their chances of claiming the final automatic qualification spot for the European Champions' Cup.

It now goes down to final match of the regular season at the weekend when Scarlets travel to Treviso, while Connacht in seventh, four points behind, will host leaders Ospreys.

Owens' try came in the second half after an error-strewn match had been neatly poised at 9-6.

Scarlets were indebted to 11 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland, while Blues' points came by way of two penalties from Rhys Patchell.

Scarlets were at near full-strength although they were without Regan King with concussion. This was Priestland's final home game before he joins Bath in the summer.

The west Wales region were unchanged from the team that beat the Dragons 29-17 on Judgement Day.

Blues switched Gareth Anscombe to full-back and Patchell to fly-half, although Anscombe only managed to last 14 minutes of a scrappy first half after picking up a head injury.

In the end the Scarlets had the better of the first 40 minutes to lead 9-3.

But it took 20 minutes to break the stalemate with the match littered with a number of handling errors.

The first points came via a penalty from Patchell after Wales full-back Liam Williams was yellow-carded by referee John Lacey for slowing up ball in front of his posts.

But down to 14 men the Scarlets got back on terms with a Priestland penalty on 26 minutes.

Six minutes later Scarlets openside flanker James Davies earned his side a second penalty from a ruck.

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And in the final minute of the half Priestland put over a third penalty from a Blues offside.

But Scarlets would have been disappointed not to have converted two or three visits into Blues' 22 into tries.

The game was put back into the melting pot after just three minutes when Patchell put over his second penalty in a match that continued to be full of errors.

Priestland gave Scarlets the chance of a try with a break and then a chip and chase but Gavin Evans got back to save the day.

A soft penalty conceded by Jake Ball in front of his posts looked certain to allow Patchell to level up the scores but the Blues outside-half badly hooked his attempt wide.

But Scarlets' pressure eventually put some daylight between the sides when Owens scored a try from a catch and drive. The score was converted by Priestland to give the home side a 16-6 lead with 14 minutes remaining.

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