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London Irish 14-33 Scarlets: Welsh side reach Challenge Cup quarter-finals

Corey Baldwin scored Scarlets’ opening try – just as he did in the 20-16 home win against London Irish in November
European Challenge Cup Pool Two
London Irish (7) 14
Tries: Tuisue 2 Cons: Myler 2
Scarlets (7) 33
Tries: Baldwin, D Jones, Hardy, S Evans, Penalty try Cons: Halfpenny 3

Scarlets qualified for the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a bonus-point 33-14 win at London Irish.

The Welsh Region progressed as one of the three best runners-up after finishing second in Pool Two.

First-half tries from Corey Baldwin, Dan Jones and Kieran Hardy cancelled out an early Irish score for Albert Tuisue to earn a 21-7 half-time lead.

A penalty try, then Steff Evans’ try secured a five-point win despite Tuisue crossing late for a consolation score.

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked three of his four conversion attempts for the visitors, while Stephen Myler improved both Irish tries.

Irish will reflect on a disappointing campaign, having won just one of their six games to finish bottom of the pool – including a narrow 20-16 defeat at Scarlets in November.

Scarlets, who scraped into the knockout stages as the lowest-ranked team, now face a trip to top seeds – and Pool Two winners – Toulon in the last eight.

Toulon, who twice beat the west Wales side in the pool, will host Scarlets on the first weekend in April.

In the other three quarter-finals, Leicester will meet Castres, Bordeaux will host Edinburgh and Bristol will play Dragons.

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney told BBC Sport:

“We started ok but we allowed them back in which gave them the momentum.

“We knew they needed four tries to qualify and their first try gave them confidence.

“The 15 minutes before half-time wasn’t the sharpest.

“Once they had three tries by half-time they had real impetus to go after in in the second half. “

Scarlets head coach Brad Moar told BBC Sport:

“We’re thrilled. There’s a huge buzz in the changing room. We talked about being bold and brave and having a night of celebration.

“The tries came from really good rugby, exerting territory and possession pressure. We probably left three or four out there which didn’t come off.

“The work the boys and the coaching staff are putting in was a pleasure to watch.

“The scrum was outstanding. So too was the defence which created a number of turnovers that we then played off.”

London Irish: Stokes; Rona, Stephenson, Hepetema, Hassell-Collins; Myler, Phipps; Hobbs-Awoyemi, Fainga’a, Hoskins, Maddison, Van der Merwe (capt), Rogerson, Ioane, Tuisue.

Replacements: Atkins, Dell, Kepu, Mafi, Curtis-Harris, Meehan, Williams, Veitokani.

Scarlets: Halfpenny; Baldwin, Hughes (capt), Parkes, S Evans; D Jones, Hardy; W Jones, Elias, Lee, Ball, Ratuva, Shingler, Macleod, Cassiem.

Replacements: Owens, R Evans, Kruger, Lousi, Rawlins, Blacker, O’Brien, Asquith.

Referee: Ludovic Cayre (Fra).

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