Rugby Union: Llanelli receive dubious reward for fumbling victory

Llanelli 21 Dunvant 16
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The Independent Online
Cup upsets are a rare bird in rugby union (although whisper that down Bridgend way). Even on an off day the higher grade side tends to win through greater strength, fitness or sheer nous.

Such was the case at Stradey Park on Saturday, where Llanelli, financially troubled and off the pace in the Premier Division, fumbled their way to victory over obstinate visitors. Two tries by their American flanker David Hodges and one by their doughty captain, Robin McBryde, each converted by Frano Botica, were enough in the end.

To Llanelli goes the dubious prize of a trip to Merthyr in the last 32 of Swalec Cup and a similar performance would be inviting trouble.

Dunvant are left to battle on in the First Division, where they were dispatched in acrimonious circumstances at the end of last season.

Having had the heart ripped out of their squad as a result of relegation - one of the 14 to depart, Cieri Davies, was in Llanelli's back row - Dunvant have rebuilt with the accent on youth.

The tactics which so unsettled Llanelli were, however, as old as the offside law itself. Barely a ruck went by without a Dunvant yellow shirt sprawling on the wrong side, and those standing off were generally just as guilty.

The Llanelli coach, Gareth Jenkins, refused to criticise Dunvant's approach and also stood by his side's apparently over confident refusal to take the easy way out.

The Scarlets eschewed penalty kicks at goal (at least until the final 10 minutes) and ran everything. Which was all fine and good except that the left wing Daniel Rogers knocked on a try-scoring pass at full stretch after 15 minutes, while the No 8, Hywel Jenkins, followed suit not long after.

There were other missed opportunities and Dunvant turned round 10-7 up thanks to a try, conversion and penalty goal by Simon Daniel. Botica then began to exert his influence and, in a three-minute spell during the third quarter, McBryde finished off a rambling, width-of-the-field assault, then Hodges broke clear to the line from 30 metres out.

Dunvant responded with a couple of penalties by Daniel to keep the home nerves jangling but Llanelli held out.

Llanelli: Tries Hodges 2, McBride; Conversions Botica 3. Dunvant: Try Daniel; Conversion Daniel; Penalties Daniel 3.

Llanelli: S Jones; W Proctor, N Boobyer, N Davies, D Rogers; F Botica, A Thomas; A Jones, R McBride (capt), H Williams-Jones (S Gale, 56), V Cooper, C Wyatt, D Hodges, C Davies, H Jenkins.

Dunvant: L Copner; E Harris, A John, B Maddox, D Evans; S Daniel, A Killa; R Llewellyn (capt), D Chick, K Allen (J Veitayaki, 60), L Williams, P Matthews (M Glover, 60), P Morris, S Jenkins (G Bennett, 75), P Middleton.

Referee: H F Lewis (Pontypridd).

l The National League Division One leaders, London Welsh have signed the American Eagles lock, Cliff Vogl, from Bridgend until the end of the season, with an option to extend the transfer.

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