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Scarlets defeat Toulon to make history in Champions Cup

during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Scarlets and RC Toulon at Parc y Scarlets on January 20, 2018 in Llanelli, Wales.

The Scarlets became only the third team to qualify out of the group stage of the Champions cup after losing their first two games of the competition.

They secured their quarter final place for the first time in 11 years as they topped Toulon 30-27 at Parc Y Scarlets to top pool 5.

Scarlets managed to continue where they left off against Bath the previous weekend with three tries in the first half. Tries from wing Tom Prydie, centre Hadleigh Parkes and fly-half Dan Jones underpinned a stylish Scarlets success. Jones added to his try with three conversions and two penalties while Rhys Patchell also scored a long range penalty.

It ended a six year wait for Welsh representation in the knockout stage of European club rugby’s premier tournament, with Cardiff Blues the last in 2012.

Three time European champions Toulon still managed to qualify ahead of Bath by the skin of their teeth, thanks to the losing bonus point in West Wales.

Toulon have progressed as one of the three best runners-up following tries from Duane Vermeulen, Chris Ashton and Anthony Belleau who also added the extras for each try. Two Francois Trinh-Duc penalties in the second half were enough to seal the losing bonus point and push the Scarlets to the wire.

Following results elsewhere Toulon will play away in the last eight against Irish Province Munster, while Wayne Pivac’s Scarlets have earned a home tie against another French team in La Rochelle.

The game begun in a thrilling fashion with two tries in the opening six minutes. Scarlets continuing on from where they left off, were immediately into their stride and went through phase-play impressively before a superb long pass from full back Rhys Patchell allowed Prydie to cross unopposed.

Jones added the conversion, but Scarlets failure to take the restart was costly after conceding a line out with number-8 Vermeulen powering over for a soft try.

Jones then kicked a penalty to open up a five point lead for the Scarlets before it was short lived with former England winger Chris Ashton showing blistering pace following an interception from a Patchell pass to finish clinically, with Belleau adding the extras.

Yet again the lead didn’t last long with the Scarlets back ahead two minutes later after Wales flanker Aaron Shingler charged down Belleau’s attempted clearance, kicked the ball on and Parkes in the right place at the right time gathered to finish in the corner.

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Jones touchline conversion, followed by him and Belleau exchanging penalties, meant the Scarlets led 20-18 after just 27 minutes as the points extravaganza continued.

And it didn’t stop there, Scarlets adding their third before the break after a sharp break by wing Paul Asquith, and even though he was stopped short of the try line, a supporting Dan Jones finished off the move by scoring under the posts and converting his own try.

The first half ended with Belleau adding his third penalty and Scarlets headed into half time with a 27-21 lead in their hope of reaching the last eight of the Champions cup.

The second half was a tighter affair with less flair and tempo, Patchell kicked a penalty just inside the Toulon half to extend the Scarlets lead, but Scarlets couldn’t break free.

Substitute Trinh-Duc booted two penalties during a five minute spell to set up a pulsating final quarter.

Toulon established a territorial foothold moving into the closing 10 minutes yet they were kept at bay, with Trinh-Duc sending a last-gasp drop-goal attempt drifting wide.

Champions Cup Quarter Finals

Leinster vs Saracens

Scarlets vs La Rochelle

Munster vs Toulon

Clermont vs Racing 92

 

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