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Jones leaves it late to earn a 9-9 draw for Scarlets

Stephen Jones went from villain to hero as the Scarlets spared their RaboDirect PRO12 blushes by earning themselves a late share of the spoils against local rivals Ospreys, drawing 9-9.

The Wales fly-half’s name was mud in the first half as he was sent to the sin bin for a tip tackle but the veteran recovered after the break to kick the game-defining penalty to level the scores.

Dan Biggar’s nine points, all from penalties, looked set to earn the Ospreys the local bragging rights as well as their first win in four games.

But anything Biggar could do Jones was determined to do better, kicking nine points of his own, including his nerve-jangling 78th-minute effort to secure a draw.

The Ospreys wasted the perfect opportunity to wrestle the early initiative when Biggar missed a third-minute penalty only for fellow fly-half Jones to repeat the unwanted trick nine minutes later.

That deadlock was broken however by Biggar on 25 minutes when, after Jones was sin binned, the No. 10 duly slotted the first points of the game with a penalty.

The home side’s numerical advantage didn’t last long however with Justin Tipuric, returning from suspension, getting himself into fresh hot water by being sent to the bin.

With Jones absent full-back Dan Evans took over kicking duties but he failed with a 32nd-minute effort and the visitors went in at the interval trailing 3-0.

Just two minutes after the restart the Scarlets were level when Wales No. 10 Jones notched his first points of the game with a penalty only for Biggar to hit back almost immediately with a three-pointer of his own.

And on 48 minutes the Ospreys’ three point advantage became six when Biggar took his tally for the evening to nine.

Nigel Davies’ side looked to have wasted their chance to get back into it with a pair of missed penalties, Jones and Evans the culprits, in the space of five minutes.

But the veteran fly-half made no mistake with a penalty just shy of the hour mark.  And when the home side were penalised for offside with just two minutes left on the clock, Jones duly slotted a penalty to level things.

With second-half replacement and Wales World Cup star George North running the Ospreys ragged Davies’ side looked the most likely to nick a late victory in the final stages.

But the final play of the game saw the Scarlets knock on to leave the points shared.     

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