Llanelli in heaven at St Helen's: Rugby Union

Swansea 12 Llanelli 42
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The Independent Online
Anyone turning up just 58 seconds late for this gem of a match at St Helen's yesterday would have missed a prime contender for the try of the season in what yet may prove the outstanding half of the season.

Less than a minute was all that the Llanelli wing Garan Evans needed to detonate a contest in which both sides were intent on doing only one thing - attack. And in Llanelli's case in particular there was some absolute text-book counter- attacking that proved too hot for Swansea to handle. The All Whites lost their leadership of the National League First Division in the process while Llanelli, well worth their bonus point, must have surely cemented their place in next season's Heineken Cup.

But if it was a brilliant advertisement for the game and for the power of positive thinking, the watching Wales coach, Kevin Bowring, will have had his delight tempered by the half-time departure of Scott Gibbs. The blockbusting centre went off with a muscle spasm in his neck, though Swansea officials were adamant he would be fit for the international.

The first half was always going to be a hard act to follow - and so it duly proved - but what had gone before was worth more than the admission price. It really was that exhilarating. Leading the way was the Llanelli centre Neil Boobyer, who provided the spark for the Scarlets' sizzling start with some glorious running, handling and distribution.

Surprisingly, Boobyer was not involved in the sensational first of Llanelli's six tries, the fly-half Frano Botica, who recorded an immaculate kicking record with all six conversions, initiating Evans' 75-yard touchline sprint with a delightful pass.

In between Boobyer helping himself to two tries, Swansea did stage a mini-revival before collapsing under the weight of Llanelli's free-flowing style.

Boobyer provided the scoring pass for the wing Matthew Wintle and his perfectly weighted kick put Wayne Proctor over before the flanker Andrew Gibbs rounded-off a memorable match.

Swansea: M Back; A Harris, M Taylor (L Davies, 67), S Gibbs (L Evans, 40), Simon Davies; A Williams, Rhodri Jones (Robbie Jones, 60); I Buckett, G Jenkins (capt), K Colclough, S Moore, P Arnold, D Niblo, Stuart Davies, D Thomas (R Field, 79).

Llanelli: W Proctor; G Evans, N Davies, N Boobyer (T Davies, 77), M Wintle; F Botica, R Moon; S John, R McBryde (capt), S Gale, V Cooper, M Voyle, A Gibbs, C Wyatt, P Morris.

Referee: J Wood (Port Talbot).

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