Scarlets head coach Nigel Davies revealed how a good luck message from prop Rhys Thomas helped inspire his young side to an impressive 27-19 LV= Cup victory over London Irish at Parc y Scarlets.
Thomas is in a comfortable condition in hospital having undergone heart surgery after being taken ill at training on Thursday. Members of the Scarlets management have been to visit the Wales international as he recovers, and Davies told of how the 29-year-old wanted to wish his team-mates the best before they went on to claim a win that sees them close in on a first LV= Cup semi-final place since the inaugural Anglo-Welsh tournament during the 2005-06 season.
Davies, whose side were shorn of 11 internationals preparing for RBS 6 Nations duty, said: "It's been a tough few days. I went to see Rhys before the game and he is not great, he is recovering but he did say to wish the boys all the best, and I passed that on to the boys, and they certainly delivered for him."
A brace of tries from Tongan winger Vili Iongi and a score from replacement prop Deacon Manu, plus three conversions and two penalties from full-back Dan Newton secured a win that means a repeat performance at Sale next week will seal a last-four spot.
The result was made all the more impressive by the strength of a London Irish starting XV that included the majority of their first-choice selection.
Young back-rowers Matt Gilbert and Kieran Murphy shone for the hosts, while centre Adam Warren and Newton were composed behind the scrum.
And Davies felt the display ranked as the best squad performance of his tenure.
"This game and last week's win in Castres have been fantastic squad efforts and show the depth we have and how that's building," he said.
"That was as strong a team as Irish could put out and we showed a lot of resilience and spirit, and when opportunities came we took them.
"That was the best squad performance that we have been able to put out, going back maybe to even a long time before I was here."