Exiles put to the sword by Llanelli

Rugby Union: Llanelli 65 London Welsh 22

Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

Llanelli 65 London Welsh 22

Those who remember the halcyon days of pre-league rugby also remember with affection Boxing Day at Stradey Park as one of the unsurpassable events of the rugby calendar, when as many as 20,000 would fill the ground to see the two greatest sides in the land.

That, though, was a quarter-century ago when JPR Williams, Phil Bennett and a distinguished cast of dozens of others were in their pomp and, with only 3,500 present, it may seem perverse to suggest that yesterday's thrashing of London Welsh might mark a revival in a hallowed tradition.

For one thing Llanelli fielded a decent team, half of them first choices, thereby reversing their recent trend of picking mainly under-21s in the interests of giving them experience. This policy change assured the Exiles' fate but at least by giving them due respect it gave the fixture credibility.

Which is more than it had when Llanelli beat London Welsh here 77-3 in 1989. That was the nadir of a relationship which began as long ago as 1886 and has been continued on almost every Boxing Day since 1912. At least the Exiles are on the way up again, unbeaten in 25 Courage Championship matches and as good as certain to qualify for the Third Division, having at one time fallen into the oblivion of the Fifth.

History has hung heavily on the shoulders of each generation, the memory of the nonpareil London Welsh sides of the 1960s and '70s associated with John Dawes, as baleful a legacy psychologically as that of the Wales sides of the '70s is for the modern international generation.

At Llanelli they appear to have come to terms with an illustrious history. One point behind Cardiff in the Heineken League, with these top two meeting at the Arms Park on Saturday week, they deemed this an opportunity rather than an imposition and selected and played accordingly.

From the moment Craig Quinnell scored the first try after 60 seconds, the traffic was mainly - though not exclusively - one-way. Andy Tucker, London Welsh's impressive captain, replied for the visitors and after the Evanses, Ieuan and Garan, had scored Llanelli's next two tries Craig Raymond marked his return to his home town with the Exiles' second.

They continued to seek to play with the exuberance that has characterised their ascent to the summit of the English Fourth Division, but until the very end won such a paucity of possession that Llanelli were readily able to maintain their procession to the line. By half-time Neil Boobyer, Garan Evans and Boobyer again had added further tries for Llanelli.

Boobyer's third, Quinnell's second and third and Ieuan Evans's second followed, as well as a remarkable try by Matthew Wintle in which he crashed into a post and then, as the crowd let out a collective gasp in sympathy, instantly recovered to touch down.

At this stage an even worse defeat than 1989's was looming but the Welsh roused themselves sufficiently for Leighton Davies to create two late tries for Rhodri Phillips. Had the game not been restricted, in deference to the conditions, to 30 minutes each way this might even have been the start of something.

As for those conditions, the half of the pitch in the shade of the grandstand was like iron, the rest tolerably soft. This in itself was an improvement on the earlier prospect, when Llanelli indicated that the game would probably have to be played on a back pitch usually used for training.

Still, at least there was a game. Sixty-five miles away Newport had decided at 12.30pm to proceed against Bristol, only for the Englishmen on arrival at Rodney Parade to disagree and cancellation to follow as late as 2pm. Llanelli may not be so worried about Saturday's league visit of Ebbw Vale but Bristol have to go to West Hartlepool, and that is different.

Llanelli: Tries Quinnell 3, Boobyer 3, I Evans 2, G Evans 2, Wintle; Conversions I Evans 4, Warlow. London Welsh: Tries R Phillips 2, Tucker, Raymond; Conversion Raymond.

Llanelli: I Evans; D Evans, N Boobyer, M Wintle, G Evans (C Warlow, h- t); R Moon, J Griffiths; R Evans (S John, 42), J Hyatt, B Grace, P Davies (capt), L Williams, C Quinnell, J Williams, P Morris.

London Welsh: R Phillips; L Davies, P Shaw, S Thomas, D Prenderville; C Raymond, G Phillips (N Gosling, 60); M Herbert, A Tucker (capt), R Thomas, O Davies, N Thomas, R Westlake, D Harries, M Russell.

Referee: H Lewis (Bridgend).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence