Exiles put to the sword by Llanelli

Rugby Union: Llanelli 65 London Welsh 22

Rugby Union


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
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower