Rugby Union: Llanelli are lifted by the Boobyer prize

Llanelli 39 Benetton Treviso 18
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The Independent Online
Llanelli failed to ram home their superiority at Stradey Park yesterday but still kept their Heineken Cup quarter-final hopes burning. They made it two wins out of three matches in Pool E without ever getting into top gear, coasting rather than scorching to victory in a match that started with high promise but then rapidly petered out.

The Scarlets effectively killed it off as a meaningful contest by the end of the first quarter, as they rushed into a 19-point lead that they then failed to capitalise upon.

Only one club automatically qualifies for the last eight from each of the five pools, those going into the play-offs being the ones in second place with the best records. If it comes down to points difference Llanelli may wish they had taken the Italians to the cleaners.

Treviso made an abysmal start, and although they had the final word with their third try in the final minutes, they never recovered from that shocking beginning. They kicked off but failed to touch the ball before they found themselves lining up behind their posts to face a Craig Warlow penalty goal attempt.

Llanelli had got into that prime attacking position via one line-out and three penalties, Warlow obliging from 25 metres. Minutes later, the flanker Andrew Gibbs bulldozed his way over as Llanelli ran a free-kick, Warlow converting, and then the impressive Neil Boobyer carved open the Treviso defence to send the wing Matthew Wintle clear.

Boobyer, the centre, deservedly got the next, shrugging off three tacklers only for Treviso to respond with their Australian No 8, Julien Gardner, sending the South African flanker Lee Stewart charging over for a try that had the southern hemisphere stamped all over it.

All that Llanelli could manage was another Warlow penalty goal in the first half and it took them 23 minutes of the second period to score again.

Treviso started the second half in far more determined mood but just as they were beginning to put together some promising phases centre Stephen Jones put them back on the defensive with a 70-metre touchfinder. But even then Llanelli were struggling to rediscover their early momentum and struggled to find something for the crowd to appreciate.

And then it came from Rupert Moon, the former Wales scrum- half spying half a gap close to the line and shooting through for Llanelli's fourth try, which Warlow converted.

That merely seemed to stir up the Italians, Denis Dallan setting up the full-back, Piero Dotto, to dive over wide out. It was fitting that Boobyer, who had put the skids under the Italians early on with some slick play, should finish them off with his second try.

Llanelli: D Williams; G Evans, N Boobyer, S Jones, M Wintle; C Warlow, R Moon; R Jones (A Jones, 60), R McBryde (capt), H Williams-Jones (S Gale, 68), S Ford, M Voyle, A Gibbs, I Jones, C Wyatt.

Benetton Treviso: P Dotto; M Perziano, F Mazzariol, M Dallan (T Visentin, 61), D Dallan; L Sherrell, A Troncon (capt); M Dal Sie (N Demeneghi, 54), A Moscardi, G Gorza (G Faliva, 73), C Checchinato, W Visser (D Scaglia, 63), L Stewart (V Cristofoletto, 32), A Sgorlon, J Gardner.

Referee: E Murray ( Scotland).