European Challenge Cup: Scarlets 20-16 London Irish
|European Challenge Cup: Scarlets v London Irish|
|Scarlets (13) 20|
|Tries: Baldwin, Hughes Cons: D Jones 2 Pens: D Jones 2|
|London Irish (13) 16|
|Tries: Matu'u Cons: Myler Pens: Myler 3|
Scarlets edged London Irish to open their European Challenge Cup campaign with a 20-16 win.
Irish hooker Motu Matu'u scored the first try before cleverly placed kicks saw winger Corey Baldwin and centre Steffan Hughes cross for the hosts.
Fly-half Stephen Myler kicked 11 points for Irish, while opposite number Dan Jones - last week's match-winner - scored 10 points with the boot.
Scarlets face a trip to Pool Two's early leaders Toulon on 22 November.
Irish host Bayonne, another French Top 14 side, the following day.
Scarlets found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of Europe's second-tier competition, having failed to qualify for the Champions Cup for the first time since first entering European competition as Llanelli RFC 22 years ago, while Irish were the 2006 finalists.
Irish hooker Matu'u powered over from close range to give the English Premiership side the lead, but they soon found themselves a man down after USA World Cup centre Bryce Campbell was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on.
Scarlets took advantage of the extra man with Baldwin latching on to a Jones grubber-kick to score on his European debut.
Hughes and his midfield partner Keiron Fonotia combined beautifully for the Scarlets' second try after the break, with the skipper latching onto a delicate chip from the Samoan to dive under the posts.
Fiji lock Tevita Ratuva impressed on his Scarlets debut, having signed from Bordeaux-Begles, while Irish handed a first start to Australia scrum-half Nick Phipps, after his debut off the bench last week.
Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar said: "The boys stayed composed. We had a real mentality to want to play a lot and our guys stuck to it and kept asking questions.
"London Irish are a good side, they've got some depth and they challenged us so we're happy with the win."
Mooar added that some of their Wales World Cup internationals are expected back next week.
Scarlets: McNicholl; Baldwin, Hughes (capt), Fonotia, S Evans; D Jones, Hardy; R Evans, T Davies, Kruger, Rawlins, Ratuva, Cassiem, Macleod, Thomson.
Replacements: M Jones, P Price, Lee, Cummins, J Morgan, Blacker, Lamb, M Williams.
London Irish: Parton; Macken, Stephenson, Campbell, Hassell-Collins; Myler (capt), Phipps; Elrington, Matu'u, Cilliers, Maddison, Nott, Donnell, Gilsenan, Rogerson.
Replacements: McMillan, Hobbs-Awoyemi, Chawatama, Cooke, Curtis-Harris, Steele, Atkins, M Williams.
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Correll (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland).