Scarlets 33-28 Benetton: Paul Asquith keeps Scarlets alive in Europe
Last Updated: 09/12/17 8:22pm
Paul Asquith scored a 78th-minute try to hand Scarlets a 33-28 win over Benetton that keeps the Welsh region alive in Europe.
The hosts were losing 28-21 with four minutes remaining, before Steff Evans brought his side back into it with a try which was converted by Rhys Patchell to level the game.
Evans then turned provider as he kicked ahead from the touchline for Asquith to chase, and the centre latched onto the ball to score the winning try with seconds remaining as Scarlets held on for an important bonus-point win at home.
It looked set to be a comfortable home victory when Scarlets went 14-0 up after six minutes and then Benetton had flanker Francesco Minto sent off for a dangerous tackle in the 24th.
But after 70 minutes the visitors, who had been 21-7 down, found themselves 28-21 up with a bonus point and all set to celebrate their first win in Europe for more nearly three years.
Scarlets' try scorers were scrum-half Gareth Davies (two), Tadgh Beirne and Evans with Leigh Halfpenny kicking three conversions and Rhys Patchell one.
Benetton's tries came from number eight Robert Barbieri, full-back Jayden Hayward, wing Angelo Esposito and lock Federico Ruzza, with fly-half Tommaso Allan kicking four conversions.
Scarlets went into the game heavily loaded with talent having recalled 10 internationals. The Welsh outfit seemed well on the way to victory as early as the sixth minute with Gareth Davies going over for two tries as the Italians were caught cold twice by the livewire scum-half.
The first came in the second minute with Gareth Davies racing in after lock Beirne won line-out ball just inside the 22 before the scrum-half was over again after good build up work by Patchell and James Davies. Halfpenny converted both tries.
Benetton got on the scoreboard in the 14th minute after a concerted attack saw Barbieri dive over from short range. Allan converted to half Scarlets' lead.
The visitors went in search of a second and went close but Asquith intercepted and although the ball got back to Patchell, he was put into touch on halfway.
The match took a significant turn in the 24th minute when Minto upended David Bulbring with the Scarlets lock landing on the back of his neck.
After calling in the TMO and seeing half a dozen replays on the big screen, referee Mathieu Raynal sent off the flanker.
Two minutes later Scarlets were over for their third try with Beirne emerging from a pile of bodies in the left corner, Halfpenny kicking his third conversion.
Patchell missed touch with a penalty and the Scarlets paid the price as 14-man Benetton counter-attacked and scored their second try through Hayward, converted by Allan.
Scarlets went into half-time 21-14 up but was the Italian side that scored first after the break with wing Esposito going over in the right corner with Allan's conversion levelling the scores at 21-21 in the 56th minute.
Matters got worse for the home team when James Davies received a yellow card for persistent offending at the ruck just after the hour mark.
Constant pressure from Treviso finally got them their reward with a bonus point try for Ruzza. Allan converted for a fourth time as the visitors led 28-21.
But Scarlets pulled off a dramatic finale with two tries in the final four minutes to steal the win. First Evans went over for a try converted by Patchell. Evans then put through a kick which Asquith collected and scored. Patchell missed the conversion but Scarlets celebrated their first win in the pool.
Watch Benetton Rugby v Scarlets live next Saturday from 12.55pm via the Red Button on Sky Sports Action.