Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel. Pic: Getty Images.

Like The Old Days . . . Dwayne Peel Salutes His Scarlets After Stunning Win Over Springbok-Heavy Sharks

By Graham Thomas

Dwayne Peel believes the Scarlets rolled back the years with their stunning victory over the Sharks but insisted the standards set has to be the blueprint for the future.

Peel watched his team overcome a Sharks squad that included 10 Springboks in a 32-20 victory that was a throwback to the streetwise muggings handed out to star-studded visitors to Llanelli in years gone by.

Sam Costelow kicked 22 points, including six penalties and converted two tries by Steff Evans as the Scarlets maintained their outside chances of Heineken Cup qualification.

Head coach Peel said: “There are some games you remember and I’m sure the players will remember that one.

“It was a great feeling in the changing room afterwards and felt like where we wanted to be. It was like the old days here in many ways, when we would find a way to win against strong teams with the crowd right behind us.

“It was a big game for us and we spoke about that beforehand. Everybody commented on the Sharks team and the abundance of world-class players they have.

“We prepared well for this game and we managed to get amongst them from the word go.”

Scarlets centre Johnny Williams – who made his first start in seven months after a calf injury – said: “It was amazing. It’s so good to be back out here at Parc y Scarlets.

“They’re an amazing team, but honestly I’m so proud of the effort. The crowd was class as well. It’s amazing to be back out here. It’s our last home game in the URC so it’s good to send it off like that.

“I don’t really think about a Wales recall. I’m just glad I’m back in a Scarlets shirt. It’s my second game back after a tough injury with my calf that I really struggled with. It’s so good to lace the boots up.

Scarlets captain Josh Macleod said: “It’s even more pleasing because I was hearing, in games earlier on today, commentators and that writing us off. No one’s mentioned us leading up to this with their team-sheet.

“But never write this team off. We’re building something really special with this coaching team. We’re looking to kick on with Europe next week. This was a massive test and next week will be exactly the same.”

A try in either half by former Wales wing Evans characterised a display full of courage an opportunism by the home side, who were also aided by an impressive return by Williams.

The Wales centre made several key tackles in midfield and was an effective foil for Costelow.

The Sharks also scored two tries, but rarely managed to maintain their power surges and gave away too many penalties to give themselves a firm platform.

Welsh rugby is currently going through all manner of convulsions, febrile even by its own notoriously sweaty standards, and the Scarlets are by no means immune.

Four of the region’s players are already confirmed to be leaving at the end of an up-and-down season, including their influential No.8 Sione Kalamafoni, as shrunken financial reality and severely trimmed contract offers start to bite.

It meant there was a certain amount of foreboding in the air around Llanelli when the Sharks revealed they would be bearing their sharpest teeth for this game, with no fewer than 10 South African Springboks in their line-up, including World Cup captain Siya Kolisi and the indomitable Eben Etzebeth in the second row.

Evans might have put the Scarlets ahead in the fifth minute, but appeared to hesitate at the crucial moment after a dashing counter-attack down the right flank in which he linked effectively with scrum-half Gareth Davies.

It mattered less when Evans did score the opening try just four minutes later. An attack down the Scarlets’ left was recycled inside and when second row Vaea Fifita juggled the ball in midfield, the Sharks were wrong-footed, enabling former Wales wing Evans to run in under the posts.

It was Evans’ 10th try of the season and in keeping with the way he and his team had  finished their last fixture, a 13-try thriller at Munster but one which they ended up losing, 49-42.

The star-studded Sharks were struggling to make an impact and when they gave away successive penalties in a retreating defence, Scarlets outside-half Sam Costelow kicked both to add to his earlier conversion.

Leading 13-0, with only a quarter of the game gone, was not the time for Scarlets to take their foot off the throttle. But they did so, and the Sharks were able to get themselves back into the contest.

The South Africans began to force the Scarlets into mistakes at the breakdown, giving the visitors a decent supply of possession for the first time in the game.

Wing Werner Kok showed his power, there was an incisive break from outside-half Curwin Bosch, and suddenly Kolisi was an attacking threat with the ball in hand.

Dented and disorganised, the Scarlets conceded from the next line-out when Kolisi drove through from a move so simple, it looked as though the Sharks were going through a training routine.

When Bosch struck a penalty to add to his earlier conversion, it looked as if the Sharks’ power was turning the screw on their opponents, but the Scarlets retained their alertness and opportunism.

A turnover enabled Cowtelow to fire a raking kick into space and when the bounce was misjudged by Sharke full-back Boeta Chamberlain, the quick-witted Evans hacked on to claim his second try.

Two further penalties from Costelow extended the Scarlets’ lead to 26-10 as the Sharks repeated their bad habits of the opening quarter.

Yet when the South Africans turned on the power, they looked capable of scoring with some ease and they did so again on the hour mark.

The towering Etzebeth claimed a line-out, from which Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi emerged over the line from an expertly controlled drive.

Bosch converted and then landed a penalty from halfway to bring the Sharks to within six points at 26-20.

But two more penalties from the cool-headed Costelow late on gave the Scarlets a deserved victory.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *