European Champions Cup: Scarlets 33-10 Leicester Tigers

Wing Steff Evans added a fifth try for Scarlets against Leicester
Wing Steff Evans added a fifth try for Scarlets against Leicester
European Champions Cup: Scarlets v Leicester
Scarlets (12) 33
Tries: R Evans 2, Owens, McNicholl, S Evans Cons: D Jones 4
Leicester (0) 10
Tries: W Evans, Fitzgerald

Two tries from Wales prop Rob Evans helped Scarlets avoid a European Champions Cup whitewash with a first European victory of the season against Leicester.

Wales hooker Ken Owens also scored despite again playing out of position at number eight.

Johnny McNicholl and Wales wing Steff Evans also crossed as Scarlets scored five tries.

Leicester scored late tries through Will Evans and Michael Fitzgerald.

Pool Four
1. Racing 925421
2. Ulster5418
3. Scarlets517
4. Leicester516

Wales coach Warren Gatland was watching before Tuesday's Six Nations squad announcement and is likely to have been impressed by the versatility of captain Owens, who was named man of the match.

The likes of Rob Evans, Ryan Elias, Gareth Davies and Steff Evans will also have caught Gatland's eye.

Ulster's 26-22 victory over Racing 92 ensured this was an European dead rubber, with Leicester and Scarlets destined to finish in the bottom two of Pool Four.

Scarlets had lost their first four pool matches, while Tigers have only won one game - the victory coming against the Welsh region in October 2018.

Leicester rested England quintet George Ford, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Ellis Genge and Dan Cole, while Ben Youngs was only introduced as a very late replacement.

Fly-half Matt Toomua captained the side while Wales back Josh Holmes lined up on the wing for Tigers.

Wales hooker Owens again packed down at number eight for Scarlets, who have a back-row injury crisis and were not allowed to play Tom Phillips because of European eligibility rules.

British and Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies was rested, but Samoan centre Kieron Fonotia proved an able deputy with a powerful performance.

The opening exchanges were dominated by scrappy scrums before Wales prop Evans burrowed over from short range.

Owens charged over just before half-time after a smart pop pass from Gareth Davies and responded with an animated celebration as the try ignited the home side.

Scarlets were inspired and Evans dived over just after the interval for his second score.

Fonotia broke through the Leicester defence to set up McNicholl to cap off a flowing long-range move to provide the bonus-point try.

Leicester flanker Mike Williams was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle before Steff Evans weaved his way over in the left-hand corner.

A break from Leicester wing Jordan Olowofela provided the platform for a try from flanker Evans, while replacement lock Fitzgerald also crossed late on.

Those consolation scores could not mask a poor performance from a Leicester side who have won the top European competition twice in their illustrious history.

Scarlets finish their campaign at Racing 92 on 19 January, while Leicester host Ulster on the same day.

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: "There was a little bit of flashes of the old Scarlets there. I thought it ticked most of the boxes for us.

"Whichever competition you are in, you want to put in a display for your fans and we have not done that for quite a few weeks.

"Ken Owens deserves all the praise he receives.

"It was one thing playing number eight as a one-off for us but to come into a European game like this and again be asked to play out of position shows what a great guy he is and he always puts the team first.

Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy said: "It was really disappointing. We knew Scarlets are a quality side and we didn't have much ball to play with.

"The Scarlets were more up for it and better physically than us. That's disappointing. They won the collisions.

"We were five per cent off and I can't put my finger on why. We didn't get it right. We knew we weren't going to get out of the group and put some guys on the field who didn't have much rugby, but it was a disappointing result."

Scarlets: McNicholl; Asquith, Fonotia, Parkes, S Evans; D Jones, G Davies; R Evans, Elias, Lee, Helps, Bulbring, Kennedy, D Davies, Owens (capt).

Replacements: M Jones, W Jones, Gardiner, T Price, Macleod, Hardy, Hughes, Nicholas

Leicester: Worth; Holmes, G Owen, Eastmond, Olowofela; Toomua (capt) White; Bateman, Kerr, Heyes, Wells, Kitchener, M Williams, W Evans, Mapapalangi.

Replacements: McMillan, Gigena, Feao, Fitzgerald, O'Connor, B Youngs, J Ford, Aspland-Robinson

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