SCARLETS 24, SALE SHARKS 23 Having not seen his side play for three weeks during the Invesco Perpetual Series, the Scarlets director of rugby Gareth Jenkins was worried his side would be rusty going into the key game in the group. And, despite taking the lead with a Regan King try in the first half, the Scarlets found themselves trailing 9-7 at half-time through three penalties to Sale outside half David Blair.
Jenkins gave his side a severe talking to at the interval and his words obviously fired up his team as they came storming back into the game after the break and quickly regained the lead with a driving line-out try from South African second row Hottie Louw. Outside half Mike Hercus, playing against his former club, added a second conversion and then stretched the home side's lead to 17-9 with a penalty. That was the cue for Jenkins to give Wales and Lions scrum half Dwayne Peel his first run of the season after overcoming an ankle injury.
Peel added new spark to the Scarlets and they were soon celebrating a second power try after the home pack shunted the understrength Sale eight over their line only for the scrum to collapse. The French referee had no hesitation in walking to the posts to signal a penalty try and Hercus added the extra points. It looked as though the Scarlets would coast home in the final quarter, but the sin binning of skipper Simon Easterby seven minutes from time gave Sale new hope.
They worked a great try for wing Chris Mayor and then the same player broke clear from his 22 from the re-start to set up Samoan centre Elvis Seveali'i for a thrilling 50 metre run to the posts for a second try in as many minutes.
Blair converted both to bring his side back to within a point and the last few minutes were extremely uncomfortable for the Scarlets. Easterby's return helped to steady the ship and he will now lead his side into the semi-finals at the Millennium Stadium in March.
Tries: R King, H Louw Penalty try
Cons: M Hercus 3
Pen: M Hercus
Tries: C Mayor, E Seveali'i
Cons: D Blair 2
Pens: D Blair 3
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series