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Blistering Scarlets outclass Bok-laden Sharks side

By PA
(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Sam Costelow kicked 22 points as Scarlets kept alive their hopes of winning the Welsh Shield with an impressive 32-20 win over full-strength Sharks.

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The four points secured just keeps Scarlets in the hunt but they will have to rely on other results going in their favour if they are to secure a Heineken Champions Cup spot for next season.

Costelow succeeded with all eight attempts at goal as he landed six penalties and the conversions to a brace of tries from Steff Evans.

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Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi scored tries for Sharks with Curwin Bosch adding two conversions and two penalties.

Scarlets began with some blistering rugby. First Evans and Gareth Davies interpassed brilliantly in a 75-metre move, which was snuffed out just short of the line, before another breathtaking passage ended with Evans scoring for the home side to take the lead after eight minutes.

However the hosts then suffered a blow when flanker Dan Davis hobbled off but they overcame this setback to extend their lead with two penalties from Costelow in quick succession.

Sharks had not had a sniff in the opening quarter but they steadied the ship and reduced the arrears when their captain Kolisi forced his way over from close range to find themselves only 13-7 adrift at the interval.

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Three minutes after the restart, Bosch kicked a penalty but against the run of play Scarlets scored a second try.

A speculative cross-field kick from Costelow bounced unfavourably for two covering Sharks and Evans was on hand to boot the ball forward before collecting it to score.

Costelow converted and kicked two penalties and Scarlets had a 16-point lead with 25 minutes remaining.

Sharks needed a quick response and they got one when first Mbonambi finished off a move from a lineout before Bosch fired over a penalty from the halfway line but two further penalties from Costelow gave Scarlets a notable scalp.

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finn 9 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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