Scarlets remain in top-four hunt after seeing off dogged Aironi

SCARLETS kept their hopes of a place in the RaboDirect PRO12 championship play-offs alive with a 26-23 victory over bottom side Aironi in Viadana.

Johnathan Edwards’ first-half try helped Scarlets to a 16-6 lead at half-time, but the Italians made a strong start to the second period and 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.

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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.

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 scored just before the half-hour mark, Edwards touching down.

Priestland added the extras and a third penalty to open up a ten-point lead before 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. However, Williams exploited a gap in the Aironi defence to race away and Morgan accepted an offload from Andy Fenby after a tremendous break to touch down, with both Priestland conversion attempts bouncing off the post. Giulio Toniolatti’s converted try was the final action as Aironi reduced the deficit to three points and earned a bonus point.