Scarlets: the top five matches under Pivac

Rich Dore
11 July 2018

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Wayne Pivac will be succeeding Warren Gatland as Wales head coach in 2019 after a superb spell in charge at Scarlets, with his fifth season at the helm set to commence this autumn.

Gatland is to step down after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and it’s not difficult to work out why the WRU have opted for Pivac with his Scarlets side now one of the strongest in Europe.

Pivac, 55, most famously led Scarlets to the Guinness PRO14 title in 2016-7 and reached the final once again two months ago, also reaching the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup.

Looking back over his reign so far, we’ve picked out the best five Scarlets matches under the New Zealander.

November 2016 – Scarlets 38-29 Leinster Rugby

The beginning of Pivac’s third season in charge at Parc y Scarlets saw the region start boldly and sow the seeds for a title-winning campaign.

Pivac had started solidly, guiding Scarlets to sixth in 2014-15 and fifth in 2015-16, and after three losses in September 2016 things turned the corner with seven straight victories.

The sixth match in that run was this high-scoring affair against then league-leaders Leinster, which saw debutant Johnny McNicholl crossing early on in the match.

Werner Kruger and Steff Evans extended the lead but Richardt Strauss kept Leinster in it with a try before the break.

Scarlets surged into a 35-8 lead thanks to Will Boyde and Ryan Elias’ tries and then managed to hold on to quell a Leinster fightback and make a big statement about their intentions that season.

February 2017 – Munster Rugby 21-30 Scarlets

Fast-forward three months and Scarlets were once again pitched against the league leaders – Munster – and once again come out on top.

Thomond Park is always a difficult place to play for any side in world rugby and so it proved in this match as Jaco Taute, Darren Sweetnam and Conor Oliver gave Munster an ominous-looking 21-6 half-time lead.

Then came the fightback. First Dan Jones registered his third penalty and then Hadleigh Parkes’ 56th-minute try sparked a blistering spell of scores in seven minutes.

McNicholl got the second with a superb 40-metre run to the line and Jones’ long pass put wing Tom Williams over in the right corner to complete the comeback.

The turnaround inflicted a first Thomond Park loss of the season on Munster and secured only a second-ever win at the Limerick ground for Scarlets.

May 2017 – Leinster 15-27 Scarlets

The west Walians wide game had impressed many observers throughout the 2016-17 season but yet heading into this Championship semi-final Leinster were still big favourites.

That all changed early on at the RDS Arena as the men from Dublin were blown away by a scintillating Scarlets performance.

Welsh wing Steff Evans started the scoring after a brilliant move on nine minutes, Garry Ringrose then put Leinster ahead but Aaron Shingler and Gareth Davies also touched down to create a 21-10 half-time lead.

Scarlets went down to 14 men after Evans saw red but two penalties from Liam Williams helped create history – the first time an away team had won in the Championship Semi-Finals.

May 2017 – Munster 22-46 Scarlets

Just one week later and Scarlets were at it again, the underdogs for a second week running, Pivac’s men unleashed a devastating expansive game on Munster that would secure the title.

Williams, Steff Evans, Gareth Davies and Tadhg Beirne all crossed in the first half to produce a stunning 29-3 lead, with Munster repeatedly caught out on the flanks.

The Limerick outfit would respond with tries for Tyler Bleyendaal, Andrew Conway and Keith Earls, but DTH van der Merwe and James Davies also struck late to round off the win, and a second title for the region.

May 2018 – Scarlets 43-8 Toyota Cheetahs

Onto this season and one of those matches that just clicked into gear for a brilliant attacking side.

The Toyota Cheetahs had played well in their debut 2017-18 season in the Guinness PRO14 and had ambitions on making the final.

The first score of this semi-final qualifier came after just six minutes as Steff Evans pounced out wide, Leigh Halfpenny then went over and Evans struck with an incredible chip-and-chase solo effort, leaving defenders in his wake.

Tom Prydie, James Davies and Rob Evans then dotted down in the second half and Scarlets were into a semi-final for a second year running.

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