Rugby Union: Llanelli find top gear

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The Independent Online
Llanelli. . 24

Pontypridd. .6

THE path from Stradey Park to the Welsh Cup Final is now well- worn and smooth for Llanelli. Only a bit of mud - and a lot of grit from Pontypridd - detained them momentarily on this season's route to their ninth title.

Ferocious harrying by the underdogs delayed the Scarlet cup masters' progress from yesterday's quarter-final to the last four.

Delayed it was, but not halted. Once the downpour from the sky stopped, Llanelli opened up with their own form of deluge.

First the pack poured forward then the backs unleashed a potent attack founded on the searing running of scrum-half Rupert Moon and wing Ieuan Evans.

Evans set up the first try by tearing down his wing before lobbing the ball inside for Emyr Lewis to lumber over.

Five minutes later, the Llanelli wing liberated Moon to kill off the game.

Evans's final magnificent flourish was to sprint three-quarters of the field, beating Pontypridd outside-half Neil Jenkins in the race to the line. The ball had been won for him by Lewis in a maul well inside the Llanelli half.

If the backs provided the ornament, the Llanelli forwards built the basic structure on solid foundations but Phil Davies in the second row was immense, controlling loose ball before unleashing the pack on a rampage.

With the outcome of the larger cup drama determined, a battle of the outside-halves was billed as a sub-plot. It never really developed though because Pontypridd's Jenkins - the current wearer of the Welsh shirt - found himself playing in a side who were increasingly out-classed. Colin Stephens, the previous owner of the Welsh No 10 jersey, kicked the kicks and held the passes, but in a side that was anyway coherent and skilful.

Llanelli, the cup holders, are not showing any great urgency to find the key to the trophy cabinet. They don't anticipate relinquishing any silverware at the end of the season. They feel they will need more Brasso not commiserations.

Swansea who narrowly beat local Bonymaen - biting the club that feeds it - may not share the sanguine Scarlet feelings.

Llanelli: I Jones; I Evans, S Davies (H Williams, 76 mins), N Boobyer, W Proctor; C Stephens, R Moon (capt); R Evans (L Delaney, 81 min), A Lamerton, D Joseph, P Davies, T Copsey, M Perego, E Lewis, L Jones (S Quinnell, 66 min).

Pontypridd: M Back; J Lewis, C Jones, S Lewis, D Hughes; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, M Powell, G Prosser, M Rowley, N Jones (M Rowlands, 67 min; G Owen, 82 min), D McIntosh, M Lloyd.

Scorers: Stephens (drop goal, 1 min, 3-0); Jenkins, (pen, 3 min, 3-3); Stephens (pen, 26 min, 6- 3); Stephens (pen, 35 min, 9-3); Lewis (try, 38 min, 14-3); Moon (try, 46 min, 19-3); Jenkins (pen, 64 min, 19-6); Evans (try, 70 min, 24-6).

Referee: C Thomas (WRU).