Going Down Fighting

Scarlets showed why they are such a passionate side when playing at home with a 32-20 Vodacom United Rugby Championship victory over the Cell C Sharks in Llanelli on Saturday evening.

Despite an undisciplined performance from the home side, they conceded penalties in areas that didn’t damage their efforts and instead they managed to take points when they were on offer as they competed well, despite a scrum that folded under pressure from the visiting Cell C Sharks who never gave up but were ultimately undone in their first ever visit to Parc Y Scarlets.

There were early scares for the Cell C Sharks, forced into desperate, but ultimately very brave defence as the home side showed their willingness to attack from all over the field. The high tempo game see-sawed from one side of the field to the other before Scarlets managed to open the scoring, a team try inside 10 minutes to underline their determination.

Their strong start continued to pay dividends after earning a penalty in the 22 and converting for a 10-nil lead on the quarter hour, with a second penalty five minutes later extending the lead to 13 points with the Cell C Sharks having barely a sniff of possession.

When the visitors finally managed to enjoy some time on the ball, Scarlets gave away four penalties in quick succession, the final one culminating in the perfectly-executed lineout maul with captain Siya Kolisi in possession as they rumbled their way over the line, with Curwin Bosch converting just shy of the half hour.

Scarlets survived a concerted effort from the Cell C Sharks in the final minutes of the first half, conceding penalty after penalty, including a massive scrum that decimated them, but in the final act of defiance, they managed to hold Vincent Tshituka up over the tryline to prevent a second Cell C Sharks’ try to close out the half, leading 13-7.

The Cell C Sharks started the second half off as they’d finished the first, with a powerful scrum, leading to a penalty, this time opting for points, Bosch converting to reduce the deficit to just three points.

But unstructured rugby, as warned by Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell, led to the third try of the game, a Cell C Sharks attack broke down, Scarlets immediately countered, kicked the ball ahead and then pouncing to score, the conversion taking them 10 points ahead.

Going into the final half hour, Scarlets added to their tally with a third penalty to take a 23-10 lead and then took it to 26-10 five minutes later with a fourth penalty.

The Cell C Sharks forwards struck back immediately, a strong driving maul with Bongi Mbonambi in possession at the back saw them over the line for the second try, Bosch converting with nine points between the sides as the game hit the final quarter.

A brilliant, 50m+ long range penalty from inside his half, saw Bosch cut the lead to 26-20 as Scarlets conceded yet another penalty, but they cancelled it out in the 71st minute with a fifth penalty and then extended their lead to 32-20 with under five minutes remaining.

There was a strong rear-guard effort from the Cell C Sharks in the closing minutes as they chased a bonus point, but the tireless defence from the hosts was enough to prevent any further score.