Scarlets Plant Their Flag In The European Cup Semi-Finals

Harry Corish - Sportin Journalist

The Scarlets have often been the standard-bearers for the Welsh rugby regions in Europe – and once again they have planted their flag in the semi-finals.

The Bank Holiday weekend began with the region overcoming French club Clermont Auvergne, 32-30, in Llanelli to make it through to the last four of the European Challenge Cup.

It was a hard-earned win for the Scarlets who trailed for much of the night, despite the fact that Clermont played with only 14 men from the 24th minute onwards following the red card shown to Irae Simone for a dangerous tackle on Leigh Halfpenny.

It was a late conversion from young fly-half Sam Costelow that saw the Scarlets through as Dwayne Peel’s side proved they are the form region in Wales with 11 wins in their last 13 matches.

They now look forward to a home semi-final against Glasgow on April 29 and should they reach their first European final, would then take on either Toulon or Benetton on May 19 in Dublin.

“When you look at this competition, finishing top of the table in the pool stages to secure home advantage has been huge,” said head coach Peel.

“The semi-final will be a massive occasion. Being at home does not mean necessarily you are going to win the game but it helps and for our fantastic supporters, it’s a massive day out. To have an occasion at home for our supporters is something we will all look forward to.”

Cardiff had hoped to join the Scarlets in the last four, but they lost their quarter-final, 27-23 to Benetton in rainy Treviso.

It was a disappointing exit for Cardiff who were outscored by three tries to two in a tight contest and just could not find a way through a determined Italian defence late on.

It means there will be no repeat trip to the final for Cardiff, who won Europe’s second tier tournament in 2010 and 2018.

Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young said: “We were in that game right until the last minute. I’m proud of the players and we definitely have a lot of build on.”

The Ospreys and Dragons were not involved, having failed to make the European quarter-finals, but there was plenty decided elsewhere.

Llandovery hammered Swansea 52-24 to stay top of the Indigo Premiership, but the Drovers are having trouble shaking off Cardiff who stayed just a point behind with a game in hand after they beat Aberavon, 32-15.

Dan Fish kicked three conversions, a penalty, and a drop goal and also became one of the handful of players to have now played 100 matches for both Cardiff Rugby and Cardiff RFC.

Merthyr lost ground in third place after losing 33-27 at Newport.

It was the first of the finals weekend at the Principality Stadium and it ended up being a memorable one for brothers, Steve and Paul Thomas – but for different reasons.

Paul was a winner with Morriston who won the Division Two Cup Final after beating Aberdare, 17-12.

But sibling Steve lost out when Varde were beaten 34-27 by Abertillery BG in the Division Three Final.

Crumlin took the Division Five title with a 38-24 win over Ferndale, whilst Bryncethin defeat Nantyglo 19-15 in the Division Four final.

Wales women spent the week in camp preparing for the big one at Cardiff Arms Park this Saturday – their TikTok Six Nations clash against England when the unbeaten top two meet.