Pro14: Scarlets 38-29 Benetton
|Guinness Pro14: Scarlets v Benetton|
|Scarlets (17) 38|
|Tries: G Davies 2, Fonotia, McNicholl, Kennedy, Prydie Cons: Halfpenny 4|
|Benetton (14) 29|
|Tries: Quaglio, Ferrari, Ioane, Allen Cons: Allen 3 Pen: Allen|
Scarlets were pushed all the way as they pipped Benetton 38-29 in a 10-try thriller, despite the visitors playing 55 minutes with 14 men.
Gareth Davies with two, Kieron Fonotia, Johnny McNicholl, Ed Kennedy and Tom Prydie all crossed for the home side.
The visitors replied through Nicola Quaglio, Simone Ferrari, Monte Ioane and Tommy Allen, who also kicked nine points.
But the margin flattered the Scarlets, who trailed for half the game.
Leigh Halfpenny converted four of their tries and was also prominent in attack, while number eight Blade Thomson was man-of-the-match in a game which mirrored the Scarlets' narrow Champions Cup win over the same opponents in December 2017.
Four of the tries came in a breathless first 15 minutes, as Gareth Davies finished well from James Davies' early break and Fonotia sped in after an interchange with Halfpenny.
But the visitors twice hit back immediately- loose-head Quaglio scored a prop's try from a metre, but tight-head Ferrari motored hard to finish a move sparked by Fijian wing Ratuva Tavuyara.
With the visitors 14-12 up, lock Irne Herbst saw red after just 25 minutes with a forearm to the head of Samson Lee, and the Scarlets took advantage ten minutes later as Gareth Davies supported on the outside after strong running from Halfpenny and Thomson.
But any thoughts that the home side would kick on quickly in the second half vanished as Ioane and Allen crossed in the opening five minutes to make it 26-17.
The Scarlets, who had Scotland scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne operating at fly-half, needed a further disciplinary decision to aid their recovery with hooker Hame Faiva sin-binned, before wing McNicholl skipped round his opposite number to score from a scrum-five.
They finally regained the lead on 62 minutes when Kennedy ploughed over for his first league try following a break from Paul Asquith, returning from a six-month lay-off.
An Allen penalty was Benetton's final score, but they were unlucky to lose one of their bonus points with the last move of the game as Prydie ran on to a Hidalgo-Clyne cross-kick and Halfpenny added his fourth goal.
Meanwhile the Scarlets back-row injury problems have deepened with the loss of James Davies who limped off early with a knee injury, teenager Dan Davis deputising, though James' brother Jonathan is expected to return in two weeks' time after injury.
Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac told BBC Sport Wales:
"I'm very happy to get five points, we will go away and review the game and improve. I guess there was a bit of a hangover from (beating Leinster) last week mentally which is something we will have to keep working on.
"We played the first half with 30% possession. When we had the ball we looked dangerous but the game went through phases where we found it hard to get our rhythm.
"We had to calm ourselves down and we controlled the latter part of the game well, if we had done that throughout it would have been a different ball game."
Scarlets prop Wyn Jones, returning from injury on Wales' summer tour, added:
"We beat Leinster last week and that put us in a good place since they're probably the best team in Europe. That was a massive positive, we had to have five points today and we move on to next week (in Connacht) happy."
"It was important for me to get back on the pitch, it was frustrating after back-to-back injuries but I feel good at the moment. You always try to get back as early as possible, I'm back a few weeks early so happy with that and hopefully I'll get some more (Scarlets) game-time.
"It's just a question of playing well and putting your hand up for (Wales' autumn) selection."
Scarlets: Leigh Halfpenny; Tom Prydie, Kieron Fonotia, Hadleigh Parkes, Johnny McNicholl; Dan Jones, Gareth Davies; Phil Price, Ken Owens (capt), Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Steve Cummins, Ed Kennedy, James Davies, Blade Thomson.
Replacements: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Werner Kruger, David Bulbring, Dan Davis, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Paul Asquith, Ioan Nicholas.
Benetton: Luca Sperandio; Ratuva Tavuyara, Marco Zanon, Luca Morisi, Monty Ioane; Tommaso Allan, Dewaldt Duvenage; Nicola Quaglio, Hame Faiva, Simone Ferrari, Irné Herbst, Marco Fuser, Marco Lazzaroni, Abraham Steyn, Robert Barbieri (capt)
Replacements: Engjel Makelara, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Alessandro Zanni, Marco Barbini, Giorgio Bronzini, Antonio Rizzi, Alberto Sgarbi
Referee: Lloyd Linton (SRU)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (SRU), Simon Mills (WRU)
TMO: John Mason (WRU)