Scarlets down the Sharks despite the latter having their Boks back

Liam Del Carme Sports reporter
Johnny Williams of Scarlets during the United Rugby Championship match against Sharks at Parc y Scarlets on March 25, 2023 in Llanelli, Wales.
Johnny Williams of Scarlets during the United Rugby Championship match against Sharks at Parc y Scarlets on March 25, 2023 in Llanelli, Wales.
Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans/Gallo Images

They have assembled Galacticos but disconcertingly, the players that make up the Sharks appear galaxies apart.

That was again the case in their 32-20 United Rugby Championship (URC) defeat to the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday. The defeat leaves the Durban side vulnerable in eighth spot on the points table with two league rounds to go.

The Sharks were sterile and lacked vitality in stark contrast to the hosts who were incisive and in the end decisive after losing their way in the middle third of the game.

The Sharks' line-outs were as poor as their game management and their supposed game drivers seemed absent.

When the visitors were in possession their attack was disjointed, and at times blunt.

It would have been perplexing viewing not just for the Sharks' coaches but also the Bok brains trust that so many green and gold regulars appeared so off colour. In fact, at times the mistakes the Sharks made was the stuff of greenhorns.

There were times their star quality shone through but it was only fleeting and when their Bok forwards were in tight formation in the scrum and maul.

The visitors' line-outs however were far from convincing but in the 27th minute one found the target in Emile van Heerden before Siya Kolisi, with considerable help from the black jerseys in close attendance, drove over at the back of a thunderous maul.

The Sharks were starting to get a foothold in the set pieces but they still lacked rhythm in their attack. At least they stopped the bleeding at the other end. They finished the first half stronger, but continued to be hamstrung by imprecision.

Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Rohan Janse van Rensburg grew gradually in stature but generally the Sharks did not operate as a collective.

It was again evident when impeccable Scarlets flyhalf Sam Costelow found the communication between Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi and fullback Boeta Chamberlain wanting after the break. They allowed the ball to bounce and it did so into the path of right wing Steff Evans who toed it ahead en route to a second try.

The Lions meanwhile staged a remarkable comeback to snatch a 32-28 win over Benetton in Treviso in their URC clash earlier on Saturday.

They scored three tries in seven minutes to turn the match on its head after trailing 28-7 with 20 minutes to play.

Tries by loose forward Emmanuel Tshituka and wing Rabz Maxwane dragged the visitors back into the contest before the former scored his second to sensationally hand the visiting team the lead by the 68th minute.

They then held on for the win. Earlier however they lacked intensity and urgency allowing the home team a springboard to build a lead.

Things however changed after the break.

“We knew we needed a fast start to put them away,” said captain Marius Louw. “At halftime we chatted about the need to pick up our intensity. Once we did that the scoreboard kept on ticking.

“We talked about staying in the moment and in the last 20 minutes we did that,” said Louw.

Two Sanele Nohamba penalties helped the Lions emerge from their slumber before their roar was restored with three tries in seven minutes.

The win kept the Lions' faint hopes of a top eight place alive.

Scorers in Llanelli

Scarlets (32) — Tries: Stef Evans (2). Conversions: Sam Costelow (2). Penalties: Costelow (6).

Sharks (20) — Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Siya Kolisi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (2)


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