Dwayne Peel has urged his players to use the heartache of semi-final defeat as fuel to kick on and grow as a side for next season.
Scarlets’ dreams of a Challenge Cup final in Dublin were ended by a physical Glasgow side at a packed Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
Reflecting on the 35-17 loss, Peel said: “I thought at half-time it was an even contest and we were right in it. Glasgow started both halves well, they had a good maul, a strong set-piece and we probably weren’t quite as accurate as we could have been.
“Around about 65 minutes I felt it was there for us to get right back in it at 28-17. we just didn’t manage to get over the line in their 22, we got bundled into touch twice, which was disappointing. I can’t fault the effort of our boys, I thought we were right in the game.
“We had three head injury assessments (HIAs) in the first 20 minutes which is unheard of. To lose all three, and then to lose Vaea (Fifita) as well is difficult. That definitely hurt us later on in the game because they were bringing on fresh bodies, and we didn’t manage to get the fresh legs on.”
Asked whether he felt Scarlets should have been awarded a penalty try with 12 minutes remaining following a knock-on by Glasgow full-back Ollie Smith, when Steff Evans was free out wide, Peel said: “It was definitely a key moment, yes. I have seen them given, but it wasn’t in our favour tonight so there’s no point harping on about it, it is done. At the time, I thought It could have been rewarded our way, that’s the way it goes, I am not here to say that is why we lost the game, we had opportunities after that to get back into the game.”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, Peel continued: “Obviously we started the season really poorly, but we turned things around and got some good results, especially here. We probably lost a bit of momentum after the Clermont game, but I am proud of the way everyone has applied themselves even in the dark times. Even when we went through that bad patch I felt the togetherness was good, everyone had their heads up coming into training and were looking to make things better and that’s what we did, we did make things better.
“A lot of young boys have had their first real season of professional rugby, consistently playing. We need to kick on now, consistency in the league is going to be something we will speak about when we come back. We just need to grow, we have had a taste of it. I thought the atmosphere was fantastic, it was a great occasion. I have sat in that position it the changing room after a semi-final loss and it hurts. Especially for the younger boys, that is what they need to strive for. The experience you get of playing knockout rugby and the pressure involved in it is invaluable. We will take a lot out of it.”
Peel added: “It wasn’t to be, but we will dust ourselves down, there is a long pre-season, we will have a good break and make sure we have done our prep and will apply ourselves when we get back.”