‘Write us off at your peril’ was the message from the Scarlets following their thrilling 32-20 win over a Cell C Sharks team packed with Springboks stars.
The visitors from Durban came fully loaded with the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Lukhanyo Am, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi and Bongi Mbonambi on board.
But Dwayne Peel’s team defied the odds to come out on top with wing Steff Evans crossing for two well-taken tries and fly-half Sam Costelow kicking 22 points.
Speaking after the game, skipper Josh Macleod said: “It’s even more pleasing because of commentators writing us off. No-one mentioned us leading up to the game with the Sharks’ team-sheet. But never write this team off. We are building something and we are building something really special.”
Former Wales scrum-half Peel hailed it as the best victory since his arrival as head coach in the summer of 2021.
“It has to be in terms of the quality of opposition,” he said. “We spoke before the game and said there are certain nights you will remember in your careers and we will all remember that. Looking at the calibre of players in the Sharks squad, they are obviously world class.
“I thought it was fantastic from the word go. We were clinical when we needed to be, Sam kicked all his goals and we showed a lot of heart.
“I am delighted with the win and pleased for the boys because they have put a lot of hard work in and it’s obviously paying off. Our young boys are the future of the region and it’s great for them. It’s probably the biggest game they have played and the best opposition. For example you had Joe Roberts playing against Lukhanyo Am. It was fantastic for him.”
The Player of the Match award went to centre Johnny Williams who was making his first start since early October after a lengthy lay-off with a persistent calf problem.
Summing up the game, Williams said: “It was amazing. Honestly, I am just so proud of the effort and the crowd was class as well. It was just so good to be back out there at Parc y Scarlets. It was our last home game of the season in the URC, so it’s good to send it off like that.”
Giving his thoughts on Williams. Peel said: “Johnny is a class operator. People appreciate him as a tough ball carrier, but he’s got good hands as well. He was fantastic. I was really pleased for him.”