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Category: Scarlets

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Scarlets turn back clock 13 years to Stephen Jones’ thrilling Paris dash | Paul Rees

Champions Cup victory over Bath brings back memories of Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam, plus Toulon president in hot waterWatching the velvet Scarlets reducing Bath to despair was to be transported back 13 years when Wales won the Grand Slam after ripping up t…

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Tadhg Beirne powers Scarlets to verge of last eight in masterclass at Bath

• Bath 17-35 Scarlets• Tadhg Beirne shows the way as Scarlets give Bath a masterclass in broken playThe Scarlets are on course to make the last eight of the Champions Cup despite losing their two opening matches after giving Bath, who started the night…

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Scarlets’ plan to hit Bath with power dented by Leigh Halfpenny injury

• Full-back fails late fitness test before key European Champions Cup tie• Sam Underhill returns for Bath in sole change to impress Eddie JonesThe Scarlets are aiming to invoke the spirit of 2002 at Bath on Friday night in their quest to reach the knoc…

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s European action

Of the five Champions Cup groups, Pool 5 looks like going down to the final weekend – with one point separating the top three: Bath, Toulon and ScarletsTake nothing away from Wasps’ hugely impressive victory against La Rochelle but the absence of Victo…

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Glasgow fall short at Montpellier but Scarlets sink Treviso in Champions Cup

• Montpellier 36-26 Glasgow• Benetton Treviso 12-31 ScarletsMontpellier kept themselves in the hunt for the European Champions Cup quarter-finals by making it back-to-back victories over Glasgow with a bonus-point 36-26 win in France.The visitors had t…

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s European action

La Rochelle shine on the biggest stage, England’s finest freeze and the Welsh dragon roars as crunch time approaches in Champions CupHave a side ever taken to Europe as well as La Rochelle? It is supposed to require years of failure and frustration – o…

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Scarlets survive rollercoaster to beat 14-man Treviso – Champions Cup roundup

• Paul Asquith secures 33-28 win against 14-man Italian side• Glasgow coach blames Friday’s Montpellier defeat on two yellow cardsWayne Pivac was a relieved man after his Scarlets side scored two tries in the final four minutes to snatch a 33-28 victor…

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Wales centre Jonathan Davies sidelined for six months with foot injury

• Scarlets player was hurt during defeat to Australia at weekend• Jamie Roberts called up to Wales’ autumn Test squad as coverWales centre Jonathan Davies is set to be sidelined for around six months after suffering a foot injury. The Welsh Rugby Union…

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Bath fly flag in Europe after Rhys Priestland puts boot into Scarlets

• Scarlets 13-18 Bath• Fly-half Priestland lands six penaltiesEven by the standards of these parts this was a wild, rain-lashed evening but Bath successfully rode the intense Friday night storm. Two wins from their opening two European games have set t…

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Scarlets’ Jonathan Davies: ‘We want to give the regional game a shot in the arm’

The centre who grew up watching Scarlets in big European matches wants his side to show their expansive potential and lay down a marker when Bath visit in the Champions CupThe Scarlets are painting towns red. Ten years after they last escaped from the …

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Bitter-sweet return for Leigh Halfpenny as Scarlets lose at Toulon

• Toulon 21-20 Scarlets• Halfpenny registers 15 points but late penalty miss proves costlyLeigh Halfpenny scored 15 points on his return to Toulon, but his penalty miss 10 minutes from the end cost the Welsh region, who had lost their previous nine awa…

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Saracens again lead English into Europe but Scarlets could lift Welsh | Robert Kitson

If they claim a hat-trick of European Champions Cups then Saracens will be among the greatest club sides ever but as the campaign starts Scarlets could also prove dangerous

There is a fresh feel to this year’s European Champions Cup as the continent’s gladiators strap on their body armour. First and foremost, the final will be staged in Spain next May, with Bilbao’s San Mamés stadium and Guggenheim museum promising a very different cultural experience. And why not? Endlessly doing the same old things is not the way ahead for an ambitious professional sport.

From the Basque country to Bath this is also a campaign full of other enticing possibilities. Not so long ago it was widely felt that digging in for the odd losing away bonus point was vital to eventual qualification. Increasingly, more sides are understanding that try bonus points, particularly at home, make an even bigger difference. Saracens, the defending champions, have scored 46 pool tries en route to successive titles; their three tries against Clermont Auvergne in last year’s final compared with Owen Farrell’s seven penalties against Racing in 2016 further underlined their positive intent.

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Leigh Halfpenny joins Scarlets to give Wales and Warren Gatland a boost

• Wales full-back signs national dual contract after leaving Toulon
• Halfpenny will be available for 2019 World Cup under selection policy

Leigh Halfpenny has signed a three-year contract with the Scarlets, bringing an end to months of speculation over the Wales and Lions full-back’s future.

Halfpenny has agreed a national dual contract with the Pro12 champions and the Welsh Rugby Union, having reportedly turned down an offer to rejoin Cardiff Blues. Halfpenny, who has also been linked with a move to Wasps, Bath and Leicester, was surprisingly cut loose by Toulon at the end of last season and was facing the prospect of beginning the season without a club.

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Scarlets score six tries to sweep aside Munster and win Pro12 title

• Munster 22-46 Scarlets
• Scarlets claim their second Pro12 title – first since 2004

Six-try Scarlets swept Munster’s meek challenge aside to win a one-sided Pro12 final 46-22 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Wayne Pivac’s men captured the Welsh region’s second Pro12 title – and first since 2004 – as their devastatingly potent attack floored an Irish province for the second week running.

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European Rugby Champions Cup: talking points from the weekend’s action

Dylan Hartley’s greatest opponent is himself, Jamie George and Owen Farrell can both replace him and it was a good weekend for the Irish

If Dylan Hartley had not been sent off we would all be talking about Leinster’s excellence. Perhaps we still should be; even when they were down to their third-choice fly-half the Irish side looked revitalised, for which credit must go both to the players and, in particular, their reshuffled coaching panel. The contrast with Northampton’s flat-footed start was particularly glaring, as the home skipper Tom Wood made abundantly clear after his side’s 37-10 home drubbing. Ultimately though, Hartley’s 58th-minute red card for a forearm smash to the back of Sean O’Brien’s head was the kind of moment that shapes perceptions and undermines career prospects. Excuses were non-existent: it had not been a dirty game, O’Brien had already been tackled and had his back to his oncoming assailant, who had been on the field for less than six minutes. Given Hartley’s own past concussion issues it was doubly crass, reckless behaviour.

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European Rugby Champions Cup: talking points from the weekend’s action

Dylan Hartley’s greatest opponent is himself, Jamie George and Owen Farrell can both replace him and it was a good weekend for the Irish

If Dylan Hartley had not been sent off we would all be talking about Leinster’s excellence. Perhaps we still should be; even when they were down to their third-choice fly-half the Irish side looked revitalised, for which credit must go both to the players and, in particular, their reshuffled coaching panel. The contrast with Northampton’s flat-footed start was particularly glaring, as the home skipper Tom Wood made abundantly clear after his side’s 37-10 home drubbing. Ultimately though, Hartley’s 58th-minute red card for a forearm smash to the back of Sean O’Brien’s head was the kind of moment that shapes perceptions and undermines career prospects. Excuses were non-existent: it had not been a dirty game, O’Brien had already been tackled and had his back to his oncoming assailant, who had been on the field for less than six minutes. Given Hartley’s own past concussion issues it was doubly crass, reckless behaviour.

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Liam Williams set to join Saracens and give Wales a World Cup headache

• Scarlets back reported to have agreed deal with Premiership champions
• Neil Jenkins says Wales players must cut out errors against South Africa

Liam Williams has been one of the few Wales players who has lived up to his reputation this month, but he is set to leave the Scarlets for Saracens in the summer and complicate his selection in the runup to the World Cup.

Williams is reported to have agreed a two-year deal with Saracens where, despite his preference for playing at full-back, he would be a ready-made replacement for the Toulon-bound Chris Ashton on the wing.

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Liam Williams set to join Saracens and give Wales a World Cup headache

• Scarlets back reported to have agreed deal with Premiership champions
• Neil Jenkins says Wales players must cut out errors against South Africa

Liam Williams has been one of the few Wales players who has lived up to his reputation this month, but he is set to leave the Scarlets for Saracens in the summer and complicate his selection in the runup to the World Cup.

Williams is reported to have agreed a two-year deal with Saracens where, despite his preference for playing at full-back, he would be a ready-made replacement for the Toulon-bound Chris Ashton on the wing.

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s Champions Cup action

Northampton’s beating at Castres was worryingly unsurprising, Williams injury a problem for Scarlets and Toulon resemble ‘Barbarians on a bad day’

One of the most extraordinary turnarounds in rugby history was the manner in which Leinster overturned a 16-point half-time deficit in the 2011 Heineken Cup final, which had flattered them, so comprehensively had they been outplayed by Northampton. At the time we marvelled at the transformation of Leinster in the second half, eventually triumphing 33-22, but perhaps we should have been more alive to the capitulation out of nowhere of the Saints. Since that day, during a period that has seen them crowned champions of England, reach another Premiership final and two European quarter-finals, they have suffered humiliations in every European campaign. The following season they lost 41-22 in Castres and then 51-36 to Munster in a supposedly home tie in Milton Keynes. The season after that they lost properly at home to Ulster, 25-6, the most modest of this rollcall of indignities, but as comprehensive as any of them. Then it was a 40-7 humiliation at home to Leinster in the 2013-14 season, before Racing took over, smashing them 32-8 at Franklin’s Gardens in 2015 and 33-3 in Paris last season. In that context, Castres’s 41-7 victory over them on Saturday was nothing out of the ordinary. And that is the most concerning aspect of all. Michael Aylwin

Match report: Castres 41-7 Northampton
Wood questions Saints’ commitment after heavy defeat at Castres

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Saracens close in on European record but Alex Goode seeks improvement

• Holders have won 11 consecutive matches in Europe
• Goode: ‘Our defence was not up to its usual standard’

Saracens are closing in on Munster’s record for consecutive victories in the Champions Cup but, while their bonus-point victory over the only Welsh team in the tournament left them in charge of their pool, the holders were far from content.

Saracens have won their past 11 games in Europe and, if they achieve the double over Sale in December, they will equal the record of 13. They were never in danger of losing but Scarlets asked more questions of them than Toulon did in the opening round, ultimately paying for defensive lapses.

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