Sloppy finale sees Leicester Tigers lose heavily - Martin Crowson's match verdict
A sloppy final 10 minutes saw Leicester Tigers' LV= Cup campaign end in disappointing fashion with a heavy defeat by the Llanelli Scarlets in Wales.
Sale's bonus-point win at Wasps on Saturday had secured them the top spot in Pool Two and rendered this fixture a dead rubber.
Yet a very competitive game was in the balance with 70 minutes on the clock as the home team held a 21-19 lead.
Tigers fell apart in the closing stages though as the Scarlets ran in three tries to overturn a 19-15 half-time deficit and win the second period 25-0.
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It was Tigers who were doing all of the try-scoring in the first half as Thomas Waldrom, Andy Forsyth and a penalty try kept them on top.
But consistent infringements in their own half cost Tigers dearly and the clinical boot of Scarlets fly-half Owen Williams kept his side in the game, despite two yellow cards for team-mates Emyr Phillips and Andy Fenby.
A pair of yellow cards for the visitors was the turning point of the second half as Rob Andrew and Fraser Balmain were sent to the cooler by referee Greg Garner.
And Tigers looked tired near the end as they shipped three late tries for an ugly scoreline.
The Scarlets dominated the early exchanges and opened the scoring when fly-half Williams kicked a seventh-minute penalty.
Leicester came back and took the lead on their first attack of the game. Turning down a kick at goal, they forced a five-metre line-out. Harry Wells took a short throw and fed Waldrom at the back of a maul that steamrollered over the line.
Matt Cornwell missed a touchline conversion but Tigers gave his opposite number, Williams, plenty of practice at the other end as he kicked three penalties in seven minutes to put the hosts 12-5 up after the opening quarter.
The game turned Tigers' way on the award of two yellow cards in as many minutes which gave Leicester a 15 versus 13 advantage.
Phillips was first to go after the Scarlets had had a team warning for repeated offences on 27 minutes and then winger Fenby joined him in the sin-bin for slapping away a clear try-scoring pass from Cornwell to a two-man overlap.
Leicester quickly took advantage as the Scarlets collapsed a five-metre scrum and Garner awarded a penalty try, Cornwell's extras levelled the scores at 12-12.
Despite being two men down, Llanelli scored next as Williams hit his fifth penalty of the game after Andrew came in at the side.
But Tigers had the ascendancy going into the break as Forsyth was on the end of a long pass from Dan Bowden and Cornwell nailed a touchline conversion to put his side 19-15 ahead.
Two more penalties from Williams edged Llanelli 21-19 ahead as the game approached the hour-mark and, by now, Tigers had a very young pack with Ryan Bower, Fraser Balmain, Harry Wells and George Oliver all on the pitch.
Things began to go wrong when Andrew was yellow-carded for pulling down a line-out jumper and, when Balmain joined him off the field three minutes later, Scarlets played their best rugby of the day.
Fenby raced down the left wing for their opening try on 70 minutes, Gareth Owen skipped through a big gap in midfield six minutes later and Nic Reynolds scored their third try in eight minutes as he controlled a bouncing ball that Geordan Murphy thought had gone out of play.