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Two tries from Steff Evans and the unerring boot of Sam Costelow



Scarlets secure crucial win over Springbok-laden Sharks

Cardiff and Ospreys win puts pressure on Scarlets

After both Cardiff and Ospreys won this weekend, Dwayne Peel’s side knew that they needed a victory to keep up their hopes of winning the Welsh Shield and securing Champions Cup rugby in the process.

Scarlets face tough challenge from Springbok-laden Sharks

That was never going to be easy though, with the Sharks rocking up to Llanelli with a side filled with Springboks.

Impressive performance from Scarlets

But scores in either half from winger Evans, as well as a 22-point haul from Costelow, produced easily their best result of the season at a time when they needed it most.

The Scarlets started strongly, with Johnny Williams – making his first start since October – continually proving difficult for the Sharks’ midfield to stop. The Welsh centre has been unfortunate with injuries, but he was the heartbeat of this victory – with a recall to Warren Gatland’s side on the cards after this performance.

Equally superlative were Sam Lousi and captain Josh Macleod. Peel’s side perhaps should have opened the scoring earlier, with wing Evans nearly finishing a breakaway from near his own line five minutes into the match.

Traditional Scarlets’ fashion leads to opening score

But when their opening score did come, it did so in traditional Scarlets’ fashion. Getting outside the Sharks defence to break from their own half off first-phase, fly-half Costelow took offload back from Sam Lousi before floating a pass out to Vaea Fifita.

The second-row marched into the space, before giving the try-scoring pass back inside for Evans to cross after 10 minutes.

Scarlets maintain lead despite Sharks’ pressure

Williams’ strong carrying continued to provide the platform, with two huge busts from scrums milking penalties that Costelow stroked over to build a 13-point lead.

However, the tide turned somewhat as the Scarlets’ discipline began to falter. A slew of penalties conceded across their back-row kept the Sharks in striking distance.

Eventually, that pressure told – with Springboks captain Siya Kolisi powering over from a close-range driving maul just before the half-hour mark.

From there, the rest of the first-half largely consisted of the Scarlets somehow managing to keep the South African outfit at bay, with Makazole Mapimpi having a try ruled out for double movement.

Evans and Costelow secure crucial win for Scarlets

The Sharks didn’t wait long to trouble the scorers in the second-half, with Sharks fly-half Curwin Bosch taking advantage of a scrum penalty a couple of minutes after the restart to make it a three-point game.

But some more quickfire points from Evans and Costelow helped the Scarlets restore a healthy lead.

First, Evans didn’t give up on Costelow’s high kick, reading the bounce and hacking it forward to score.

Costelow converted, then added a couple of penalties to push the lead to 16 points.

Sharks’ power in the pack provides opportunities

However, the Sharks’ power in the pack, particularly the scrum and lineout, continued to provide them with opportunities.

Just before the hour-mark, another driving maul earned from Scarlets infringements saw another Springbok force his way over – this time, hooker Bongi Mbonambi getting over to reduce the deficit.

A penalty from Bosch shortly after from just inside his own half once again reduced the gap to just one score, setting up a nervy finish for those at Parc y Scarlets.

A Costelow penalty with eight minutes to go eased those nerves, before another one four minutes later – his final act in the match – made sure of a mightily impressive victory.



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