Evans shows the old style

Llanelli 30 Swansea 17
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IEUAN Evans may be coming to the end of a career which has seen him maintain the respect of the rugby world while the Welsh team were consigned to the shadows, but at Stradey Park yesterday the winger showed he still has a spring in his sidestep.

The talk all week around Llanelli was whether Frano Botica would make his first appearance for the West Walians. He completed his pounds 150,000 transfer from Castleford via Orrell and the intense hope among the Scarlets faithful was that his arrival would spur the club to beat their perennial rivals and First Division leaders, Swansea, yesterday.

The club that has been blessed with the likes of Phil Bennett and Jonathan Davies at outside-half were left disappointed, however, as Botica's only appearance yesterday amounted to a brief introduction to a welcoming crowd. Anyway he wasn't needed as Evans, not renowned for his kicking, put over five penalties and scored two tries in a 25-point haul. In all his quarter century overshadowed Swansea's outside-half, Arwel Thomas, who managed 17 points of his own, including two brilliant moments that produced his side's tries.

Llanelli were desperate for the win after being starved of inspiration in midweek when they had gone down 14-9 at Caerphilly - the paupers of the First Division. In contrast Swansea had recovered from defeat at Dunvant with a midweek home win over Pontypridd. Thus the All Whites came as favourites, but in a season where no team seems capable of dominating there was always the chance that Llanelli's pride would be enough to see off the power of Swansea.

Llanelli had the better of the opening exchanges as Evans put over two penalties within the first four minutes. But Thomas, who put in the sort of performance that is usually seen from a Llanelli No 10, pressed his claims for the Welsh shirt with a showing that suggests he has conquered the lack of confidence that characterised his introduction to the big time last year.

His cheeky dummy to go over for the first try gave Swansea some hope before Evans put over two more penalties 10 minutes before half time. When Thomas struck to go over for his second try, the game had turned into the battle of two talents and the youngster won the first half 17-12.

But although Swansea had looked likely to bury Llanelli it was a different story after the turn-around. Swansea offered nothing as Llanelli took advantage of their opponent's sloppy line-out and sudden lack of ideas. Evans levelled the scores with his first try after four minutes, taking advantage of a huge overlap on the right hand side. He followed that up with a penalty goal of fully 50 metres and Llanelli didn't look back.

They finished with a two-try flourish in the final minutes, one for Wayne Proctor and the inspirational skipper had the final word as he went over for an injury-time try to send Swansea packing down the M4 yet again.

Llanelli: W Proctor; I Evans, M Wintle, N Davies, 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; R Boobyer, M Taylor, S Gibbs, A Harris; A Thomas, A Booth; I Buckett, G Jenkins, S Evans, S Moore, P Arnold, R Appleyard, S Davies, C Charvis.

Referee: H Lewis (Bridgend).