The Runner Sports

Scarlets Win Pro 12 Final

A smothering attack and solid defense provide Scarlets with their first Pro 12 title since 2004.

The Scarlets have been the underdogs of the entire Pro 12 postseason. No one expected them to take down both of the top Irish provinces to win the league. However, that is exactly what they did.

Both teams entered the match on a solid win streak. Scarlets’ last loss came on March 4 away to Leinster, and Munster’s most recent Pro 12 loss was also to Leinster, but all the way back in October. Both teams were stacked with some amazing players, many of whom will be flying to New Zealand after the match to join the British and Irish Lions.

The attack starts with an eerily similar feel.

Munster started off with the first points on a Tyler Bleyendaal penalty kick following a collapsed scrum by the Scarlets. Following that moment, the Munster attack would be very quiet for a long time. Scarlets quickly fired back with a cross field kick to Liam Williams for the first try of the day and to take a lead they would never give back. The Scarlets’ attack mirrored last week almost perfectly, with wide balls and countless line breaks. Scarlets managed 4 tries in the first half, by four different players. The Munster defense was ineffective and had absolutely no answers for the lighting quick Welsh province. Despite the score line, Munster did in fact have more metres made throughout the match at 510-413. Munster was silent on the attack until the very end of the first half, when Bleyendaal took the ball after a scrum and got across the line for Munster’s first try of the day.

Defensively is where Munster really struggled. Munster only had a 69% success rate tackling, and allowed their opponents 25 defenders beaten.

The visitors eased their attack and concentrated on defense in the second half.

In another similarity to last week’s win over Leinster, Scarlets eased off the gas on their attack in the second half. They began to concentrate more on preventing points and clearing balls against Munster. The lack of attack was not capitalized on by Munster, as they continued to make little progress with ball in hand throughout the second half.

Munster were able to manage two more tries in the second half, but both after the 75th minute once the match was out of reach. Scarlets would not let go though as they scored two more tries in the final 10 minutes of the match to match the effort.

Scarlets’ back line made their attacking domination possible.

Jonathan Davies and Steff Evans each had more than 75 metres made in the match. Along with a contribution by James Davies at flanker, the three combined for over 235 metres. The back line was tremendous, but it truly was a full team effort to create this historic win.

Scarlets win was one for the record books.

No team had ever won a road semi-final, that record no longer exists thanks to the Scarlets. Scarlets also broke Leinster’s 2014 record for most points in a final, clearing the old record by 12 points. They also now hold the largest win margin in a final match. This final was truly a match for the record books, and all by a team that was counted out before the playoffs even started. Congrats to Scarlets on a great year and their Pro 12 title.

Munster-22

Scarlets-46

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David Bradham

Active duty Navy, have a true passion for Rugby.
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