Gareth Davies . . . The Striking Bright Light In A Dark Season For The Scarlets

BKT United Rugby Championship, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma, Italy 17/5/2024 Zebre Parma vs Scarlets Scarlets Gareth Davies scores a try despite Bautista Stavile of Zebre. Pic: INPHO/Luca Singholfi

Gareth Davies . . . The Striking Bright Light In A Dark Season For The Scarlets

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By Simon Thomas

The “phenomenal” Gareth Davies has been likened to a top striker in football having just reached a major career landmark.

Wales scrum-half Davies took his tally of league tries up to 50 with a double in the Scarlets’ victory over Zebre Parma in the last round of BKT URC matches.

He’s only the second Welshman to reach a half century, following in the footsteps of his regional colleague Steff Evans, and just the seventh player overall.

Only Evans (54), Tim Visser and DTH Van der Merwe (both 58), Craig Gilroy (59) and record holder Tommy Bowe (67) now stand above him on the all-time list, where he lies joint sixth with Andrew Trimble.

The prolific Davies is the highest scoring scrum-half in the competition’s history and the only player from outside of the back three in the top 10.

He will be looking to add to his growing tally when he takes on Dragons RFC in a Judgement Day clash at the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.

His Scarlets coach Dwayne Peel – himself a former international No 9 – is glowing in his praise for the man from Carmarthenshire.

“If you look at him as a try scorer, he has been phenomenal,” he says.

“He has scored some fantastic tries. He scores the wonder tries and he’s still doing that, but he’s also got an eye for support lines. I think the great players have that.

“It’s very similar to strikers in football. The guys who score the goals from four or five yards out, those are the ones that get in the right place at the right time.”

Outlining what makes Davies still such an effective performer just a few months away from his 34th birthday, Peel says: “He is the ultimate competitor really.

“He wants to fight every day in training. He doesn’t like anyone getting one over on him. That’s the player he is, that’s the mentality he has. That’s why he’s had such longevity and is still going strong.

“He is a great character and he really drives the standard. Because he is such a competitor, he brings that out in everyone else.”

Giving a players’ perspective, Scarlets skipper Ryan Elias says: “He has got a great eye and he knows the game inside out.

“He is a calming voice and a massive help to me.

“I will speak to him to make sure he gets stuck into the forwards and not to let us get lazy. He will bark at you to get round the corner and not take the easy options.”

Davies, who now has 66 Scarlets tries to his name in all competitions, plus 16 for Wales, hopes the 32-18 victory over Zebre out in Italy will serve as a springboard for a positive conclusion to the campaign against the Dragons.

The Scarlets have endured a difficult season with just four wins out of their 17 league matches.

“It was good to get the win. It’s a tough place to go,” he said, following his Player of the Match display.

“We knew Zebre were going to come out all guns blazing and they really did challenge us in the first 20 minutes, but I thought we got together and managed the game well and came away with a good win.

“We have had a tough old season, so it was nice to have a good win and hopefully it will give us a bit of momentum going into the last game of the season.”

With fellow Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams recovering from ankle ligament surgery, the 76-cap Davies is a strong contender for a starting spot against South Africa at Twickenham next month.

Another predatory display on Judgement Day would certainly enhance his claims for a return to the Test team.

All-time top try scorers

67 – Tommy Bowe (Ulster/Ospreys)

59 – Craig Gilroy (Ulster)

58 – Tim Visser (Edinburgh), DTH Van der Merwe (Glasgow/Scarlets)

54 – Steff Evans (Scarlets)

50 – Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Andrew Trimble (Ulster)

49 – Dan Evans (Scarlets, Dragons, Ospreys)

48 – Dave Kearney (Leinster)

46 – Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)

45 – Tom James (Cardiff, Scarlets), Simon Zebo (Munster)

44 – Andrew Conway (Munster)

42 – Rhys Webb (Ospreys

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