By James Dodd
Glenn Delaney believes his 14-man Scarlets side have learnt well from their defeat to the Cardiff Blues earlier in the month – and can now extract their revenge on Friday night.
The regions met at the start of January at the Cardiff City Stadium, with the capital region running out 29-20 winners.
The big talking point was Liam Williams’ red card in the first half after a head-on-head clash with his Wales teammate, the Blues’ Shane Lewis-Hughes.
Scarlets head coach Delaney has revealed how Williams made a phone call to referee Craig Evans after TV microphones picked up the player’s sarcastic comment to the official.
Delaney was impressed with how his side clawled their way back into the game after going a man down but admits the defeat was a big learning curve.
“In all fairness, we obviously had a red card in the match and the sanction has come out,” Delaney said.
“There’s some behavioural change we need in that area and being responsible around some of those things.
“The fact of the matter is we went 20-18 up and we didn’t manage the back end of the game. I’d still back us to manage that now, even with 14.
“We’ve learnt a lot from it, and I think that’s the point from it. You can’t stand still.
“As long as we’re taking things from the games to apply. A couple of weeks later we get another chance, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The result of Williams’ sending off was a three-match ban, which includes this week’s repeat fixture against the Blues, as well as Wales’ opening Six Nations match against Ireland on February 7.
Delaney believes Williams’ response to the incident afterwards was all done in the right manner
“He knows that’s a step too far there. The sanction has come through, so it has all been dealt with 100% correctly,” says the former London Irish coach.
“There’s an impact on us as a team and the national side as well. There are massive consequences to that offence.
“It’s been spoken about in detail and there is a lot of opinions around it. It’s the nature of the game, these things happen so they’re there to be commented on.
“We don’t condone it; we don’t support it and we don’t want it to be a part of the game. We’ve got a responsibility to make sure that we’re all playing within the laws.
“The matter is concluded and finished as far as we’re concerned and we’re paying the price for it this week.”
As Williams received the red card, there was clear backchat towards referee Evans.
A lot of talk about the Liam Williams incident but I have to say, @CraigEvans91 did a great job in the middle last night.
— Laura-Jane Jones 💙 (@MissLJJ) January 10, 2021
Delaney explained how things had been resolved on that front following the conclusion of the match
“He (Williams) had a phone call with the referee afterwards. It was a hot-headed moment. I think we’ve all been in those situations, but again, no one is condoning it.
“Unprompted, he made the call to Craig the referee and Craig accepted that, and he moved on as well. Everything that needed to be done post events was dealt with. Obviously, we prefer that those things don’t happen.”
Delaney has also spoken about how he is looking forward to his head-to-head with friend and opposite number Dai Young – who has returned to his former side in Cardiff.
“It’s great to have Dai back in the game. I’ve known him a long time and he’s a good rugby man. He’s a Cardiff man through and through.
“He set that club up and had a wonderful nine years there in the original time.
“He’s been off doing wonderful things with Wasps. You can see the groups of players that are still playing at Wasps that he put together.
“Obviously, they’re playing freely now, and he’ll be very proud in how they’re going at the moment.
“We’ve caught up a couple of times and he’s enjoying being back in the hot seat which is great.
“It’s an opportunity more for us. They’ll be focusing on whatever they feel they can bring to the contest in round two and we’re no different.”
With Wayne Pivac having named his Six Nations squad, Delaney trusts that this weekend is an opportunity for some players to confirm their starting place.
“We were looking at potentially playing last weekend and then the opportunity from the Pro14 came to bring a game forward.
“We’re kind of getting used to catching games up but we’ve never really brought anything forward, so I think it’s wonderfully proactive and forward thinking.
“It’s going to have all the internationals available, which if it was played in the original slot it wouldn’t do.
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) January 20, 2021
“What a great thing for Pro14 rugby to get the best players on the field in a big game competing just around the time the Six Nations is on.
“Hopefully, it will fuel a lot of interest and there will be a lot of enthusiastic comments on the game.”
Scarlets hosts the Cardiff Blues at Parc Y Scarlets this Friday, with kick-off at 20:00. Live coverage of the match is available on S4C, with English commentary available.