Boobyer moves into reckoning: Rugby

Swansea 12 Llanelli 42
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The Independent Online
Kevin Bowring went ashen when he walked into St Helen's on Saturday and heard that yet another of his front-line players had joined Wales' casualty list in the countdown to the Five Nations' finale against England.

Colin Charvis had become the latest injury worry, yet by the interval the Welsh coach was turning even greyer as he saw centre Scott Gibbs leave the field with a neck muscle spasm. At this rate Bowring will struggle to find 15 fit men from his squad for Saturday's match.

There was better news in the shape of a fantastic team performance by Llanelli, especially in a scintillating first half which brought six tries and a commanding showing from Mike Voyle, the Scarlets lock. Voyle looks likely to fill the vacancy left in the Welsh boiler-room by Mark Rowley's broken hand.

If Gibbs is unable to play, Bowring can go outside his nominated squad of 26 to replace him. He could do worse than select one of Welsh rugby's forgotten talents, Llanelli's Neil Boobyer, whose first-half performance was sublime on Saturday. He scored two tries and made another for Matthew Wintle. Those tries followed a lightning start by Llanelli, who worked their wing Garan Evans clear 75 metres out. Evans left everyone for dead and touched down with less than a minute played.

That set the tone for the afternoon and Llanelli's counter-attacking was of the highest order throughout. Having beaten Cardiff, 48-26, at Stradey Park 10 days earlier, this victory means they are back in the top flight and looking good for a place in the Heineken Cup.

Despite hitting back with two first-half tries, this defeat for Swansea, coupled with Pontypridd's six-try trouncing of Dunvant, means they are four points adrift at the top. With more than a full team on the injury list, it looks the end of their title challenge. The final nails in their coffin were applied by Wayne Proctor, courtesy of Boobyer's pinpoint kick and Andrew Gibbs's finishing.

Swansea: Tries Gibbs, Harris; Conversions Harris. Llanelli: Tries Boobyer 2, Evans, Wintle, Proctor, Gibbs; Conversions Botica 6.

Swansea: M Back; A Harris, M Taylor (L Davies, 67), S Gibbs (L Evans 40), Simon Davies; A Williams, Rhodri Jones (Robbie Jones, 60); I Buckett, G Jenkins (capt), K Colclough, S Moore, P Arnold, D Niblo, Stuart Davies, D Thomas (R Field, 79).

Llanelli: W Proctor; G Evans, N Davies, N Boobyer (T Davies, 77), M Wintle; F Botica, R Moon; S John, R McBryde (capt), S Gale, M Voyle, V Cooper, A Gibbs, C Wyatt, P Morris.

Referee: J Wood (Port Talbot).

n Jonathan Davies said yesterday that if he is selected for the international against England on Saturday, it will be his last for Wales. "I haven't given up hope of sneaking into the Lions squad but I hereby announce that I won't be seeking the old red shirt any more," Davies said in his column in the Independent on Sunday. "By the time the next Five Nations' Championship comes around I'll be 35, and while I am confident I have got enough in the tank to play at any level this season, another year will be asking too much."