Scarlets put huge dent in Sharks' play-off dreams
MATCH REPORT: The Scarlets may well be out of the play-off running, but the struggling Welsh region impacted the tournament in a big way.
They beat the Springbok-laden Sharks team 32-20 at a wet Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli in a United Rugby Championship Round 16 match on Saturday.
The result means that the Sharks barely hang on to their top-eight spot.
However, more disappointing was the fact that the Sharks looked like a disorganised team with a lack of real structure.
* To recap all the drama in Llanelli, CLICK HERE!
Sam Costelow kicked 22 points as Scarlets kept alive their hopes of winning the Welsh Shield.
The four points secured just keeps Scarlets in the hunt, but they will have to rely on other results going in their favour if they are to secure a Champions Cup spot for next season.
Costelow succeeded with all eight attempts at goal as he landed six penalties and the conversions to a brace of tries from Steff Evans.
Siyamthanda Kolisi and Mbongeni Mbonambi scored tries for Sharks – with Curwin Bosch adding two conversions and two penalties.
Scarlets began with some blistering rugby.
First Evans and Gareth Davies interpassed brilliantly in a 75-metre move, which was snuffed out just short of the line, before another breathtaking passage ended with Evans scoring for the home side to take the lead after eight minutes.
However, the hosts then suffered a blow when flank Dan Davis hobbled off but they overcame this setback to extend their lead with two penalties from Costelow in quick succession.
Sharks had not had a sniff in the opening quarter but they steadied the ship and reduced the arrears when their captain Kolisi forced his way over from close range to find themselves only 13-7 adrift at the interval.
Three minutes after the restart, Bosch kicked a penalty but against the run of play Scarlets scored a second try.
A speculative cross-field kick from Costelow bounced unfavourably for two covering Sharks and Evans was on hand to boot the ball forward before collecting it to score.
Costelow converted and kicked two penalties and Scarlets had a 16-point lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Sharks needed a quick response and they got one when first Mbonambi finished off a move from a line-out before Bosch fired over a penalty from the halfway line but two further penalties from Costelow gave Scarlets a notable scalp.
Player of the Match
Welsh international centre Johnny Williams returned from injury to trouble Sharks all night with his direct running and strong tackling which kept formidable opponents Lukhanyo Am and Rohan Janse Van Rensburg firmly in check.
Play of the Match
Lacking a number of players and facing a formidable line-up on paper, Scarlets needed a fast start to give them confidence that they could hold their own. They achieved this with a superb opening quarter to build up a 13-0 lead, with an excellent team try from Steff Evans the highlight to make it a compelling contest.
Tries: Evans 2
Cons: Costelow 2
Pens: Costelow 6
Tries: Kolisi, Mbonambi
Cons: Bosch 2
Pens: Bosch 2
Scarlets: 15 Tom Rogers, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Josh Macleod (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Shaun Evans, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Sharks: 15 Henry Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Thaakir Abrahams.
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Jason Griffiths (Wales)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)