THE SHERIFF COMES OUT FIRING AS SCARLETS ROAR BACK
IT may not have been the last time Ken Owens pulls on the No. 8 jersey, but the Scarlets skipper had more important things on his mind at the final whistle of Saturday’s hardearned victory over the Dragons.
Seven days earlier, Owens, a player who gives every last drop in every game, had left the field to the sound of boos from sections of a 10,000-plus Parc y Scarlets crowd.
He came in for criticism himself for a decision to go for the corner instead of three points early in the second half, with the flak coming not just from fans on social media, but from closer to home.
Speaking in an interview to broadcasters Premier Sports minutes after his side had ended a five-match losing streak with a scrappy 22-13 derby win over the Dragons, the Wales and Lions hooker was in no mood for holding back.
“A lot of people have questioned us, questioned me personally, They can do what they want, but the boys have stuck together over the last couple of weeks and really dug it out and we got the result,” he said.
“One thing I have learned over the last month or so, when you winning everyone is in it together, when you are losing everybody starts pointing fingers.
“As a squad we have really stuck together. It wasn’t pretty out there, but we knew what we had to do, we had to get the win and we did that.”
Asked about the booing in the wake of the Cardiff Blues defeat, Owens elaborated: “People outside of our group can do what they want; it’s not just the supporters booing us, there has been a lot of criticism from within the club as well, that is the way it is.
“We have stayed tight over the last month or so, we know what we can do, we have faced a lot of adversity, we are a tough group.
“You find a lot about your squad and players when your backs are against the wall and at times it is all about winning.
“We are just happy to get the result.”
With that, Owens headed into the dressing room to toast a much-needed victory to kickstart 2019.
The Scarlets are still a shadow of the slick outfit who have enjoyed unprecedented success in the Guinness PRO14 in recent seasons, but that is understandable considering the casualty count they have had to deal with.
Seven absent back-rowers meant Owens was forced into wearing the No. 8 jersey for the first time in his professional career on Saturday.
And unsurprisingly, he let nobody down.
The final stats showed 12 carries for 27 metres, six tackles and a turnover strip for good measure.
But it is Owens’s leadership that is proving invaluable at such a testing time for the West Walians.
“He is immense,” said head coach Wayne Pivac. “He leads by example, he puts his body on the line every week.
“To be honest, we didn’t have any-
Johnny McNicholl is tackled by Jordan Williams and Jack Dixon.