Rugby Union: Botica may be grounded by injury

Llanelli 31 Caledonia 10
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The injury which reduced Frano Botica from stand-off to spectator on Saturday as Llanelli scrambled their way into the Heineken Cup play-offs, may have grounded him as far as flying to Croatia's rescue next weekend is concerned.

Botica, a former All Black who qualifies for Croatia by virtue of his late father, is scheduled to fly to Split (at his own expense) straight after Llanelli's rearranged league match at Pontypridd next Saturday.

An Army helicopter will take him the remaining 50km to the ground where the Croats have a vital World Cup qualifying match against Russia on Sunday. Unfortunately Botica, who has a slight groin strain, also has an injury to his right bicep and he said: "If I can't play at Pontypridd on Saturday then I will not attempt to get to Croatia. It would not be fair on the club. I either play in both or neither."

He will be missed by Croatia as he most certainly was by the Scarlets. As exciting a prospect as Craig Warlow is, Botica's stand-in against Caledonia did not have the necessary experience to run the game.

Llanelli had enough possession, particularly in the second half, to have constructed a sound platform of points, instead hard-won ball was frequently seen bobbling about on the ground at the end of a panicky pass made under unnecessary pressure.

Caledonia competed well enough throughout the game, but their inability to convert pressure into points let them down. The pack worked hard, the back row performing sterling work in defence, but outside there was no attacking spark.

Their captain, Rob Wainwright, was unstinting in his criticism. "The refereeing was not as frustrating as the problems we were having as a team. All the players should look to their own performance before they start pointing the finger anywhere else."

Botica was almost as scathing about Llanelli's error-strewn performance. "We have made it this far with very basic and average football," he said. "Now we have to up the tempo and cut out the mistakes."

Llanelli: Tries Gibbs, McBryde, Moon; Conversions Warlow 2; Penalties Warlow 3; Drop goal Warlow. Caledonia: Try Grimes; Conversion Shepherd; Penalty Shepherd.

Llanelli: D Williams; G Evans, N Boobyer, M Wintle, W Leach; C Warlow, R Moon; R Jones, R McBryde (capt), H Williams-Jones, D Hodges (S Ford, 8-15), M Voyle, A Gibbs, I Jones, C Wyatt.

Caledonia: R Shepherd; S Longstaff, P Rouse, D Officer, J Kerr; M McKenzie, D Patterson; W Anderson (J Manson 52), G Scott (S Brown, 80), S Penman (D Herrington, 73), S Campbell, S Grimes, D McIvor (M White, 73), R Wainwright (capt), G Flockhart.

Referee: J Pearson (Yarm).