Evans adds new side to his game

Llanelli 30 Swansea 17
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The Independent Online
Ieuan Evans is used to scoring, but tries are his game more than kicks. Yet when the doctors ruled out Frano Botica from making his debut a mere 75 minutes before kick-off, the Llanelli skipper had no hesitation in putting himself forward for the kicking duties against Swansea.

If the truth be known, he was not actually the first choice, but Rupert Moon declined the dubious honour. A few words of friendly advice from the coach, Geraint John, did not go amiss, although a couple of hurried practice kicks prior to kick-off did.

Four first-half penalty goals, into a stiff breeze, hit the mark and the Scarlets were on their way to recovery from their midweek 14-9 catastrophe at Caerphilly, and to knocking Swansea off the top of the table.

Meanwhile, Botica was not the only one in the stand who could not believe what he was seeing. For more than a year the Scarlets have been suffering from a lack of a reliable goal-kicker, and that is why they splashed out more than pounds 100,000 on the former All Black.

For his part, Evans did not know what all the fuss was about. His victory salute after his second-half effort showed off his delight. His two tries were typical efforts. Given half a chance on both occasions, he snaffled them up. Shame about the conversions, but he had more than done his bit.

Swansea have looked the best team in Wales at times this season, yet on the road they fall down badly. Last Saturday they lost 26-18 at Dunvant.

Arwel Thomas and Scott Gibbs have made an enormous difference to the Swansea back-line, but they need greater resolve away from St Helen's. Their attacking qualities need to be supplemented by a more convincing defence.

Although Thomas distinguished himself by scoring all his side's points, he let himself down by missing two relatively simple penalties in the second half that would have increased the tension.

Those blemishes apart, the young stand-off is looking a good bet to challenge Neil Jenkins even more sternly for the Welsh No 10 jersey.

Llanelli: Tries I Evans 2, Proctor; Penalties I Evans 5. Swansea: Tries Thomas 2; Conversions Thomas 2; Penalty Thomas.

Llanelli: W Proctor; I Evans (capt), N Davies, M Wintle, G Evans; N Boobyer, R Moon; R Jones, R McBryde, S John, V Cooper, M Voyle, H Jenkins, C Wyatt, P Morris.

Swansea: L Evans; A Harris, S Gibbs (A Palfrey, 20-29), M Taylor, R Boobyer; A Thomas, A Booth (C McDonald 12-16); I Buckett, G Jenkins (capt), S Evans, S Moore, P Arnold, R Appleyard, S Davies, C Charvis.

Referee: H Lewis (Bridgend).