Gareth Davies Insists Scarlets Can Build A Recovery On Back Of Derby Win

NEWPORT, WALES - APRIL 23: Gareth Davies of the Scarlets applauds the supporters during the United Rugby Championship match between Dragons and Scarlets at Rodney Parade on April23, 2022 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Gareth Davies Insists Scarlets Can Build A Recovery On Back Of Derby Win

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By Simon Thomas

Gareth Davies believes the Scarlets can continue the repair job on their URC season after their victory over Cardiff.

The Wales scrum-half is likely to be a key figure again for his region when they host South African side, the Lions on Saturday.

After two heavy defeats out in South Africa to the Stormers and the Bulls, the Scarlets restored some pride in front of their own fans in their first Welsh derby of the campaign.

Going into his 234th game for the Scarlets at home last weekend, Davies had never before captained the side.

But handed emergency duties at the helm, the No.9 responded with an inspirational Player of the Match display in a much-needed 31-25 bonus point victory over Cardiff.

He claimed his 60th try for the region as he won the race to a chip ahead and skidded over to put them in front for the first time after it had been 14-14 all at the break.

Then he turned provider as he broke away from the base of a scrum, stepped inside and released No 8 Vaea Fifita to deliver a fine finish in the corner.

It was an impressive way for the 74-cap Davies to mark his regional return following his Rugby World Cup exploits and also his first time as skipper, a role he was given after club captain Josh Macleod suffered a freak ankle injury in training during the week.

“We are obviously happy with the win,” said the 33-year-old, reflecting on the Scarlets having suffered heavy defeats in South Africa in the first two rounds.

“Fair play to Cardiff, they threw everything at us, especially in the first half. We started to play a bit more in the second half and showed that when we do have the ball we can score some tries, so hopefully we can keep playing like that.

“It was a good one. We had two tough weeks out in South Africa, so we were happy to be back in front of our home fans, happy with a bonus point win and we will build from here. We will take a bit of confidence into next week now.”

Scarlets coach Dwayne Peel paid tribute to Davies, saying: “Gareth coming back from international duty was big for us.

“He stepped in as captain at the last minute and he led really well.

“If you have got quality players like that, it rubs off on everyone else in terms of their professionalism and attention to detail.”

Giving his thoughts, Cardiff head coach Matt Sherratt said: “Gareth Davies showed his class. He scored a try and then had a moment of brilliance with an assist for Fifita, and that was probably the difference in the end.

“In these tight games, experience can get you over the line and I thought the Scarlets’ more experienced players – Gareth Davies, Fifita, Johnny McNicholl, Steff Evans – they have been in those situations before and that’s what got them over the line probably.”

Meanwhile, the Ospreys are celebrating a success both on and off the field following their landmark London meeting with the Hollywoodbets Sharks.

They claimed a 19-5 victory over the team from Durban at the Twickenham Stoop in the first ever BKT URC match to be played in England.

It was a game that drew an official attendance of 7,183, including both fans who travelled from south Wales and a sizable contingent of ex-pat supporters.

Asked whether he felt the ground-breaking initiative had been a success on and off the field, Ospreys coach Toby Booth replied: “I think so, yeah.

“The BKT URC and our owners have had the ambition and foresight to go ‘let’s do something different’.

“When you try something different, it doesn’t always work out for you, but if you don’t roll the dice, you are never going to win.”

All the points came in the first half, with backs Jack Walsh, Max Nagy and Keiran Williams crossing for the Ospreys in response to an early touchdown for Sharks flanker Phepsi Buthelezi.

Booth said: “I am so proud and pleased for the boys that they managed to get the result and the performance they did.

“We are a side that will never go away from an effort point of view and sometimes effort gets you a long way.

“I thought we were into everything, we were a pain and an irritant to everybody and that’s a side that wants to fight. That’s a reflection of the culture and the team spirit.

“Nothing beats winning for morale, enthusiasm, humour, bus trip home. It’s a big tick for us, especially when you look at the players missing.”

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