Rugby Union: Moon's resources take Llanelli into semi-finals

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Llanelli. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Pontypridd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

HE WHO laughs last generally laughs longest so it was Rupert Moon, the Llanelli captain, who was wearing the broadest of grins over his battered face after steering the holders through to the Swalec Cup semi-finals.

The Pontypridd plan to stop Moon at all costs seemed to be having a little bit of success at the start of the game when the new Welsh scrum-half was being taken out early, late and occasionally with the ball. But the resilient and resourceful former English- qualified player quickly came to terms with his problems and turned into a real match-winner.

Tries either side of half-time changed the game completely in favour of the Scarlets, with Moon playing a big part in the first and racing 30 metres to score the second.

If the cup traditionally brings out the best in Llanelli, who have triumphed in the competition on a record eight occasions, then it also has the effect of bringing out the very best in Moon. As well as keeping his side on course for a possible hat-trick of titles and a fifth final in six years, Moon is also in the hunt for a third successive man of the match award in the final.

Not that it is going to be anything like plain sailing for his side over the final two rounds. Swansea have already defeated the Scarlets at Stradey Park this winter, Bridgend triumphed over them on home soil and Neath, the other semi-finalists, will have a point to prove as they seek to salvage some success from an otherwise indifferent season.

But only a fool would bet against Llanelli retaining the cup on 8 May, even if they have to face Swansea, their bitterest of rivals, in the semi- finals. The cup is special to the club, the players and the town.

Pontypridd reckoned on having as good a chance as any team of winning at Stradey, arriving with as big a pack as possible and a very useful recent record. They may have done well at the line-out initially, but their scrum was never able to function in the way they wanted and the driving play and foraging of the Llanelli back row gave the home side a clear edge.

That then made life all the more bearable for Moon at the heels of his pack and it was his interactive play with the forwards that proved a constant delight to all those present - bar, that is, the Pontypridd faithful.

Llanelli: Tries Lewis, Moon, I Evans; Penalties Stephens 2; Drop goal Stephens. Pontypridd: Penalties Jenkins 2.

Llanelli: I Jones; I Evans, S Davies, (H Williams, 74), N Boobyer, W Proctor; C Stephens, R Moon (capt); R Evans (L Delaney, 79) A Lamerton, D Joseph, P Davies, A Copsey, M Parego, E Lewis, L Jones, (S Quinnell, 63).

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, (G Owen, 79), D McIntosh (M Rowlands, 61), M Lloyd.

Referee: C Thomas (Bryncoch).