Wales new boy Costelow shines brightly for Scarlets
It’s been a momentous few weeks in the rugby life of young Sam Costelow. His fine early season form in the United Rugby Championship saw the Scarlets fly-half named in Wales’ squad for the autumn internationals – but that was just the start of it.
The late withdrawal of team-mate Leigh Halfpenny from the campaign opener against New Zealand saw Costelow drafted onto the bench amid an eleventh hour reshuffle.
Then, 67 minutes into the game, came his big moment as he took the field at the Principality Stadium to make his Wales debut – versus the mighty All Blacks!
A second cap followed in a replacement role as a Test career was launched.
Next up was an eventful trip to South Africa to link up with the Scarlets in time to start the BKT URC clash with the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, only for him to pick up a yellow card which meant he was facing a likely suspension on the totting up factor having been sin binned twice before this season.
Yet the card was subsequently overturned, so he was free to wear No 10 in Sunday’s EPCR Challenge Cup tie at home to Bayonne and he proceeded to deliver a Player of the Match performance in a much-needed 39-7 win.
It was further evidence of the talent of the 21-year-old from Pencoed, who spent a couple of seasons with Leicester before returning to Wales.
However, he was quick to pass the plaudits on to those around him.
“As a team, we spoke a lot beforehand about having a bit of hwyl, a bit of heart,” he said.
“The forwards really showed up and it makes our job as half-backs a lot easier when those boys are going forward. The boys outside me were talking well too. They were really good. It means I can just concentrate on doing my role. I’m happy, it was a good day.
“I thought our attack was good. We have still got to go forward now, myself included. A couple of passes weren’t that accurate. We’ve just got to keep putting our foot on the throat and keep working hard. It’s a good start in the competition. We’ve got to back it up again next week now.”
Giving his thoughts on Costelow’s display, Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “He’s a good player, isn’t he? He was disappointed last week with the yellow card and a few missed kicks, but his kicking was really good in this game and he controlled matters well.”
Peel also made a point of praising scrum-half Dane Blacker, centre Ioan Nicholas and prop Kemsley Mathias after a five-try victory which was very welcome, being just the second win of the season in all competitions.
“Bayonne selected a very strong team, so we knew there was a big challenge ahead of us and I was pleased with the reaction,” said the former Wales and Lions No 9.
“We scored some lovely tries. We have been creating a lot this season and not executing. So it was nice to see us dotting it down. We executed, especially in the first half, with really nice line breaks to completion.
“I was pleased with the defensive effort as well. Bayonne came hard and they are heavy in the set piece and they put us under pressure there. Credit to the boys for managing to keep them out, with some key turnovers. We had a bit of fight in us in defence and that’s pleasing to see.”
The Scarlets now head out to Parma in Italy for their second Challenge Cup tie against South African side the Cheetahs, who were previously part of the PRO14, the precursor to the BKT URC.
“You know from their time in the league they will be physical. They have got a point to prove as well. It’s a great opportunity for them,” said Peel.
“It’s a big challenge, another big game and an important one for us. We will go there strong. We want to get on a run in this competition to springboard us into a big derby season in the BKT URC.”
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