Griffiths wins the stand-off

Llanelli 11 Cardiff 10
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WHOEVER would have thought, even a year ago, that we would see two such great rugby league players as Jonathan Davies and Jonathan Griffiths back in rugby union and opposing each other at stand-off for Cardiff and Llanelli respectively. Griffiths won the day yesterday, taking the man of the match award after steering his side to victory in this Welsh Cup quarter-final.

Both stand-offs constantly demanded the crowd's attention with their steadiness under pressure and the strong influence they exerted on affairs.

The score indicates how tight the game was as the two rivals fought tooth and nail for supremacy in a typical and tremendously hard-fought cup game which must have sent the blood pressure of their respective supporters off the scale.

Llanelli deserved to win as for the most part they kept Cardiff on the back foot. But the visitors did have their moments, notably a strong spell midway through the second half. Llanelli could have been well ahead much earlier had they taken their try-scoring opportunities in the first quarter and had Justin Thomas kicked his goals. In the end he was successful with only two out of seven.

Llanelli's opening assaults were fraught with excitement as they put Cardiff under terrific pressure. Wayne Proctor, Ieuan Evans, Spencer John and Phil Davies all came within a whisker of scoring, but miraculously Cardiff held out.

The stream of possession to the Llanelli backs continued, and it took a couple of fine clearance kicks by Jonathan Davies to give Cardiff their first attacking platform. Llanelli were penalised for offside as they attempted to mark down Davies, who then had the satisfaction of giving Cardiff the lead with a penalty after 15 minutes, against the run of play. But Justin Thomas quickly restored the status quo with a penalty for Llanelli.

Jonathan Davies stamped his personality on the game with a brave and beautifully taken mark from another determined Llanelli onslaught. He was also finding long touches. Another searing attack by the Wales full- back Justin Thomas again had the Cardiff defence at full stretch, but at half- time the match was tied at 3-3.

The try Llanelli had been looking for came early in the second half, and it seemed inevitable that it was scored by Ieuan Evans, who ran on to a grubber kick by Neil Boobyer.

Cardiff stormed back to the Llanelli line where Derwyn Jones neatly won the line-out for the prop Andrew Lewis to power his way over. Jonathan Daviessmashed over the wide-angle conversion.

Cardiff had decided at half-time that the Llanelli forwards were vulnerable and played on them in the scrums, using their superior weight and power. But a break by Rupert Moon raised the siege and brought Llanelli back into the game.

The game was finally won with a rugby league-type run by Jonathan Griffiths. He was halted a couple of yards out, but Cardiff conceded a penalty in the ruck and Justin Thomas kicked it. The referee played six minutes of injury time, but Llanelli were in no mood to falter.

Llanelli: J Thomas; I Evans, N Boobyer, M Wintle, W Proctor; J Griffiths, R Moon; R Evans, R McBryde, S John, P Davies, P Jones, M Perego, C Wyatt, G Jones.

Cardiff: I Jones; N Walker, M Hall, S John, S Hill; J Davies, A Moore; A Lewis, J Humphreys, L Mustoe, J Wakeford, D Jones, V Davies, H Taylor, E Lewis.

Referee: D R Davies (WRU).