Rugby Union: Moon keeps Llanelli on course

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Neath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Llanelli. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

THERE was never going to be a lot in it, providing Llanelli rediscovered the stomach for a good, old-fashioned Welsh Cup shoot-out. They did and are now two wins away from matching the golden exploits of the Scarlets of the early 1970s.

With their Heineken League title destined for Swansea, Neath or Pontypridd, the cup offered Llanelli a lifeline for the rest of the season. When they were drawn away at Neath in the quarter-final, one of the few clubs at which they had never won a cup tie, many feared the worst.

Neath had destroyed them at the same venue earlier in the season and were keen to avenge their narrow and controversial defeat in last year's final. They also had a point to prove after falling at Swansea in the top- of-the-table clash last month.

Everything pointed to a Neath win, even though the record nine-times winners of the cup were seeking their 100th victory in the competition and their 20th in a row.

'In years gone by it was

often said that Llanelli sides could fold when the chips were down, but we said in the dressing-room before the game that we were better than that,'

Rupert Moon, the Llanelli skipper, said.

'We did so well last season by beating Australia and doing the double that we all said we owed a good performance to the club. We had to perform for the club and the fans and I was proud at the way we played.

'Neath just didn't stop coming at us. I told the players we had to put our bodies on the line and tackle, tackle and get up and tackle again and they did just that.'

Moon led by example in that department, chopping down the Welsh prop John Davies inches short on two occasions as the home side laid siege to the Llanelli line in the second half. He also added the game's only try for good measure as he stormed back to his best form.

The Neath captain Gareth Llewellyn opted once again to play into the wind in the first half, a similar move at Swansea saw his side change ends 15-0 down, and out of the contest.

Moon's try opened the scoring after 26 minutes. Llanelli stole a Neath throw at a line- out on the home 22, Nigel Davies ran hard into the midfield and Mark Perego acted as the link between the centre and Moon to create half a gap for his skipper to nose through and cross at the posts.

Colin Stephens converted and Llanelli had struck a huge, and decisive, psychological blow. Paul Thorburn kicked a penalty shortly before half- time, but missed four more in the second half, and Neath were never able fully to bridge the gap.

Neath: Penalty Thorburn. Llanelli: Try Moon; Conversion Stephens.

Neath: P Thorburn; J Reynolds, H Woodland, S Crandon, A Harries (M Singer, 22); M McCarthy, R Jones; M Morgan, B

Williams, J Davies, Glyn Llewellyn, M Whitson, S Williams, Gareth Llewellyn (capt), M Morris.

Llanelli: J Strange; I Evans, N Boobyer, N Davies, L Davies; C Stephens, R Moon (capt); R Evans, A Lamerton, H Williams- Jones, P Davies, A Copsey, P Jones, S Quinnell, M Perego.

Referee: D R Davies (Llanbradach).