Scarlets warm up for Munster clash with win over brave Aironi

Scarlets, who play Munster next weekend, kept their hopes of a place in the RaboDirect Pro12 play-offs alive with a hard-fought victory over bottom side Aironi in Viadana yesterday.

Johnathan Edwards’ first-half try helped them to a 16-6 lead at half-time, but the Italians hit back and deservedly drew level. However, further tries for Scarlets from Liam Williams and Ben Morgan proved enough to give them continued hope of a top-four finish.

Aironi were dogged and Giulio Toniolatti’s converted try at the death earned them a losing bonus point.

Rhys Priestland kicked the first of his 11 points with a third-minute penalty, and Scarlets just failed to score the opening try when Nick Reynolds dropped the ball as he went to ground it in the corner.

Aironi scored penalties through Tito Tebaldi and Luciano Orquera either side of Priestland’s second successful penalty to make the score 6-6 before Scarlets grabbed a try just before the half-hour, Edwards touching down.

Priestland added the extras and a third penalty to open up a 10-point lead, although Aironi were unlucky not to pull one back as Josh Sole dropped the ball with the line in sight.

A yellow card for Josh Turnbull was seized upon by Aironi, whose converted penalty try brought them level, with Orquera then missing a long-range kick to put them ahead.

Scarlets responded as Williams exploited a gap in the Aironi defence to race away, and Morgan accepted an offload from Andy Fenby to also touch down. Both Priestland conversion attempts bounced off the post and out.

Toniolatti’s converted try was the final act as Aironi reduced the deficit to three points, and Scarlets are now just one point behind fifth-placed Ulster and two behind Glasgow in fourth.

AIRONI: Tebaldi, Toniolatti, G. Pavan, Pratichetti, Sinoti, Orquera, Keats, Sole, Favaro, Cattina, Bortolami, Geldenhuys, Romano, Ongaro, Aguero. Replacements: Olivier for Tebaldi (60), Venditti for G Pavan (76), Ferrarini for Favaro (71), Williams for Cattina (60), Furno for Geldenhuys (60), Perugini for Romano (41), D’Apice for Ongaro (60), A De Marchi for Aguero (60).

SCARLETS: L. Williams, Lamont, Reynolds, S. Jones, Fenby, Priestland, G. Davies, Morgan, J. Edwards, Turnbull, Day, Shingler, R. Jones, Owens, John. Replacements: Iongi for Fenby (72), Murphy for J. Edwards (41), P. Edwards for R. Jones (79), M. Rees for Owens (55).

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland).

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