Scarlets 20-17 Benetton: Dan Jones wins Pro14 contest with last kick

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales at Parc y Scarlets
Pro14: Scarlets v Benetton
Scarlets: (10) 20
Tries: S Evans, R Evans Cons: D Jones 2 Pens: D Jones 2
Benetton: (14) 17
Tries: Esposito Pens: Allan 4

Scarlets battled to a dramatic 20-17 Pro14 win over Benetton with Dan Jones the hero as he scored the winning points with the last kick of the game.

Jones landed the winning penalty from 35 metres, after Tommy Allen levelled the scores in the 79th minute.

The Scarlets led for much of the second half through tries from Steff Evans and Rob Evans but Benetton defended hard.

Angelo Esposito's try and Allen's boot almost earned the visitors a share of the spoils before Jones' pressure kick.

The Scarlets go second in Conference B with five wins from six.

The Treviso side included nine Italian World Cup players, while the Scarlets welcomed back Scotland's Blade Thomson but were still without their battered Wales contingent.

A comedy of errors presented the Scarlets with the opening score after five minutes with the visitors' back three all making blunders, as Corey Baldwin hacked downfield and man-of-the-match Steff Evans dived in for a fingertip touchdown under the nose of Jayden Hayward.

Dan Jones converted but the visitors hit back with two penalties from Allan to one from Jones.

The Lions then edged into the lead on the half-hour as Tommaso Benvenuti's huge pass put winger Esposito over unopposed on the overlap, with a third Allan penalty making it 14-10 at the break.

Scarlets turned down several kickable shots at goal and their strategy eventually paid off, with lock Lewis Rawlins leading the forward charges and replacement prop Rob Evans wrestling his way over on 54 minutes for Jones to convert.

They almost scored again straightaway with Kieran Hardy unable to hold onto a potential scoring pass from Johnny McNicholl after Steff Hughes' midfield break.

But the Scarlets could not find a cutting edge to complement their second-half domination and Allan levelled the scores with a 45-metre kick in the 79th minute.

There were just seconds left when the restart was taken, but the Scarlets forced a final penalty which Jones coolly slotted over.

Scarlets' Dan Jones told BBC Sport Wales:

"I was a bit nervous (taking the kick), it was a tough win for us and we didn't play our best rugby but we just got the job done.

"Second half, we piled on the pressure, Treviso held out well on their line and we couldn't break them down, but we'll learn from those mistakes.

"It's all about winning especially with the World Cup window and no (current Wales) internationals playing. We're a young group and we go into Europe with a lot of confidence, back at home first (against London Irish), so hopefully we get our supporters out and we're fit and firing.

"We've got a tough (Challenge Cup) group but we're not there to make the numbers up."

Scarlets: McNicholl; Baldwin, Hughes (capt), Asquith, S Evans; D Jones, Hardy; Price, T Davies, Lee, Rawlins, Cummins, Kennedy, Macleod, Thomson.

Replacements: M Jones, R Evans, W Kruger, J Kruger, Cassiem, Blacker, Lamb, Fonotia.

Benetton: Hayward, Esposito, Brex, Benvenuti, Ioane, Allan, Tebaldi, Quaglio, Faiva, Riccioni, Herbst, Ruzza, Negri, Steyn, Manu.

Replacements: Makelara, Traore, Pasquali, Cannone, Budd, Pettinelli, Duvenage, Rizzi.

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Dan Jones (WRU),Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU)

TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

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