Pivac thrilled as Scarlets style shines through in dream Dublin final

Paul Eddison
27 May 2017

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Wayne Pivac admitted there was some trepidation when he saw the rain falling in Dublin on Saturday morning but as the day dried up, the Scarlets’ basic skills shone through as they claimed Guinness PRO12 glory.

It’s been a three-year journey for Pivac, who arrived in West Wales from New Zealand in 2014, and while the Scarlets played some scintillating rugby to run in six tries in a 46-22 win, it’s work on the basics behind the scenes which has made the difference according to the Kiwi.

And Pivac was delighted for his charges at the way they stuck to their philosophy in the biggest game of the season.

He said: “It’s very pleasing. It’s something the boys want to do, they play a style of rugby they enjoy, it’s been successful for us.

“The thing that was a bit annoying was when the rain came down so heavily this morning, so we were happy it stopped when it did.

“It’s down to hard work. We work on a lot of basic skills, catch and pass, being able to do that under pressure.

“You can see that, we have props, loose forwards, second rows, pass and catching under pressure and exploiting those wide channels when we’ve got the ball in the middle of the park. We have players with a lot of x-factor but it’s about getting them the ball going forward. It’s been a lot of hard work on the basics.

“We talk about our attack and scoring tries but our defence has been fantastic. Byron Hayward has done a lot of work with the boys, John (Barclay) leads the boys on the field and even if we let in a couple of soft ones at the end, generally speaking our defence was pretty rock solid.

“We’re not only a strong attacking team, but we’re also a very strong defensive team and you need those ingredients to win a championship.”

The result is all the more remarkable when you consider that Scarlets were missing both second row Jake Ball, and club captain and British & Irish Lion Ken Owens, both absent through injury.

In Owens’ absence, it was John Barclay who took on the captaincy, and he led from the front, cleaning up messy ball at scrum-time, throwing himself at tackles in defence and providing the link when Scarlets turned ball over.

Now 30 years old, Barclay has experienced most of what the game has to offer, and this occasion ranked as high as any he has gone through.

He said: “I’ve been a professional for 13 years and I’ve never played a final. It hasn’t really sunk in. It’s a career high and one of my proudest moments. It’s going to be a good night.

“You look at the game and it can be overcomplicated. In essence it’s a simple game. If you look at our training, there’s a lot of basic drills.

“We focus on the basics because we know we have the x-factor guys.”

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