Llanelli leave it late to move up the table

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The Independent Online
ROBERT COLE

Abertillery 29 Llanelli 39

Llanelli had to wait until the final minute to reach their goal of maximum bonus points when Matthew Wintle crossed for his second try to finally kill off the stubborn home team.

Victory means a leap of two places into second for the Scarlets, although with the leaders, Neath, having equalled the Heineken League record in their 95-17 win over Aberavon earlier, it would be a brave man who picks a winner over the Welsh All Blacks this season.

It mattered not that Abertillery had conceded 95 points and 15 tries at Cardiff four days earlier, Llanelli remember them as fearsome foes at home. On the opening day of the inaugural Heineken League season in 1990, the Gwent side had soundly beaten them.

For their part, Abertillery, one off the bottom of the First Division, were reluctant participants in a game which they were ordered to play by the Welsh Rugby Union after an earlier cancellation. It was easy to understand their reluctance. They had played Cardiff the previous weekend, face Neath on Saturday and have a host of injuries. The WRU failed to warm to their plight, although at half time it was the Scarlets who had the ruddy cheeks.

First-half tries by Justin Thomas and Wintle were not enough to put them ahead of a highly motivated Abertillery. Having conjured up two tries of their own from Darren Wright and Shaun Connor, they squeezed further ahead on the stroke of half time when Mark Williams landed a penalty that gave his side a seven-point lead.

Abertillery should have increased their interval advantage at the start of the second half, but Connor was inches wide with a dropped goal and Williams missed a sitter of a penalty.

Llanelli finally got into their stride, and three tries in 12 minutes brought up two bonus points before Wintle wrapped up the full house.

Abertillery: Tries: Wright 2, Connor, Powell. Conversions: Williams 3. Penalty: Williams. Llanelli: Tries: Thomas 2, Wintle 2, Boobyer, R Evans, Harries. Conversions: Thomas 3.

Abertillery: M Williams; A Richards, B Corlett, K Price, A Price; S Connor, D Wright; B Cripps (D Morgan, 40, D Duly, 60, J Powell, 62), D Caswell (C Milkins, 40) N Prest, J Cicero, R McCorduck, R Gladwin, G Gladwin, M Picton (capt).

Llanelli: J Thomas; D Evans, M Wintle, N Boobyer, G Evans; J Griffiths, H Harries; R Evans, R McBryde (capt), H Williams-Jones, L Williams, P Jones, C Quinnell, J Williams, M Perego (P Morris, 19).

Referee: H Lewis (WRU).

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