Rugby Union: Llanelli keep in hunt for unlikely double

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The Independent Online
Maesteg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Llanelli. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58

IT looks like being another frustrating second place for Llanelli in the Heineken League First Division this season, but after a hat-trick of runners-up cheques don't bet against the Scarlets occupying the top spot for the same period thereafter.

It was the dream of Gareth Jenkins, their charismatic and innovative coach, to end his reign at Stradey Park with a League and Cup double. With a possible six matches to play his side are still very much in the hunt for an unprecedented, if unlikely, double.

The Swalec Cup is already in Scarlet hands and if they can successfully negotiate Saturday's tricky quarter-final against Pontypridd it could arrive at Stradey Park for a ninth time.

The league is another story. This victory allowed Llanelli to march back to the top of the table for the first time since the second week in September, yet they know their stay is likely to be temporary. 'I couldn't argue with Swansea claims that we can't win the title, but they could lose it,' Jenkins said.

'If Swansea win all their matches then the title is theirs. If they don't then we are in with a great chance and we intend to maintain the pressure right to the end.'

It's a case of everything coming down to the wire, with Llanelli's superior try count ready to win them the title if Swansea draw or lose.

'I don't envy Swansea and their problems with re-arranging fixtures. I think they might rue their decision not to play Newport this weekend,' Jenkins said. 'We had faith in our squad system and we made the right decision to play. We have developed greater consistency and I don't see why we shouldn't go on to do well over the next few years.'

One player they are likely to be without in future quests for honours is the veteran lock Phil May. He put his body on the line for the club once again, coming into the side for his first full game in five months since dislocating his left shoulder, and suffered a third dislocation in a year in the second half.

Jenkins said it all of the man who, in his 18th first-class season, has played more than 540 games for Llanelli: 'Phil May is a hero.'

Maesteg: Tries Williams, Yardley. Conversion Edwards. Llanelli: Tries Quinnell 2, Lamerton 2, I Evans, Boobyer, Stephens, Penalty Try. Conversions Stephens 6. Penalties Stephens 2.

Maesteg: D Edwards; B Davies, L Jones, R Griffiths, M Brown (C Yardley, 31); D Williams, H Lewis; S Lewis, L Gilbey, A Henson (capt), L Harvey, P Matthews, C Evans, P Buckle, P Thomas.

Llanelli: I Jones; I Evans, N Davies (capt) (H Williams, 58), N Boobyer, L Davies; C Stephens, S Wake; R Evans, D Fox, D Joseph (L Delaney, 72), P May (J Phillips, 65), P Jones, G Jones, S Quinnell, A Lamerton.

Referee: O James (Pontypridd).