Llanelli get kick out of Bowen's display

Llanelli 35 Gwent Dragons 11
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The Independent Online

Gareth Bown, the Llanelli Scarlets fly-half, produced a superb kicking display to lead his side to a comfortable win in their Celtic League opener at Stradey Park last night.

Bowen kicked eight from nine attempts to score 22 points in the Scarlets' 24-point victory, but the Dragons showed enough spirit to prove they will be dangerous opponents in this competition.

The underdog Dragons started well, with young winger Nathan Brew - capped by Wales last month - sounding the alarm bells with a jinking 40-metre run through some ordinary defence, and Peter Sidoli, the younger brother of Wales international Robert, having a field day in the lineouts.

Dragons full-back Brett Davey, twice, and Bowen, three times, slotted penalty goals as the new regional sides shook off cobwebs and referee Simon McDowell whistled for 13 penalties in this first 20 minutes.

Bowen's fourth penalty goal as the clock ticked down towards half-time gave the home team a 12-6 lead and the knowledge that they'd have the benefit of the wind in the second period. The Dragons inside centre Steve Winn finished the first half earlier than planned when he was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Scarlets winger Salesi Finau, who had to be carried off the field on a stretcher.

Bowen added two more penalties as the Scarlets began to take control, with Scott Quinnell bursting over the try-line from close range in the 63rd minute.

In another game played yesterday, a try from substitute hooker John Fogarty four minutes from time sealed an 11-3 opening day victory for Connacht over Edinburgh in Galway.

It was a fine opening to the season for the Welsh regions with the only bad news being Cardiff's 23-13 loss to Glasgow, after three Blues players were shown cards, including Craig Quinnell's red for stamping.

In Friday night's matches, the Neath-Swansea Ospreys beat Ulster 41-30 at the Gnoll, the Celtic Warriors demolished Borders 49-12 and defending champions Munster sneaked past Leinster 15-8.

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies; R Rees, T Selley, L Davies (capt), S Finau (M Watkins 38); G Bowen, D Burn (M Phillips 53); D Maddocks (N Williams 75), A Gravelle (R Williams 71), J Davies, A Jones (B Griffiths 26-38), V Cooper (B Griffiths 53), C Wyatt, I Boobyer, S Quinnell.

Gwent Dragons: B Davey (L Jarvis 74); N Brew, A Marinos (capt), S Winn (H Luscombe 62), B Breeze; C Warlow, R Jones; A Black (D Pattison 62), P Young, C Anthony, I Gough, P Sidoli (L Charteris 62), S Van Rensburg, J Forster, R Oakley.

Ref: S McDowell (Ire).