Rugby Union: Neath fall under the influence of Moon

Llanelli 40 Neath 17
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The Independent Online
When it comes to the cup Llanelli have been there, done it all and made a fortune from T-shirt sales. Now they are just one step away from a 13th final in 27 years and have Seven Sisters, of the Fourth Division, barring their way.

Even in these times of financial crisis at Stradey Park nothing, it seems, can dim the club's passion for a cup contest.

Their preparation for yesterday's Swalec Cup quarter-final had been far from ideal, though. They had to call out of retirement their former Wales prop, Hugh Williams-Jones, and shift Robin McBryde from hooker to tight-head prop to create a makeshift front row.

Then the Wales winger Wayne Proctor dropped out to force a reshuffle in the back division. The omens were not good, but the rest of the players responded in true Llanelli style.

Neath may have blitzed their west Wales rivals in their last meeting, but on this occasion they simply never got going. Richard Davies gave them the lead with a 10th minute penalty, and that was the only time they ever looked like winning the game.

The lead lasted for only four minutes before Jason Hyatt rounded off a superb line-out drive from Mike Voyle's catch for the first of six tries. From then on it was one-way traffic.

A hat-trick from Garan Evans, who has taken over from Ieun Evans on the right wing at Stradey, spearheaded the victory, but the real catalyst was that wily old war-horse Rupert Moon.

While Neath's gamble of playing Chris Bridges and Richard Davies at half- back failed abysmally, so much so they were both substituted at half-time, Moon was at his astute best at the heels of his under-pressure pack.

He turned one retreating scrum into a try two minutes before half-time and always kept his side moving forward and on course for a 20th semi- final appearance.

Two penalties by Craig Warlow at the start of the second half hoisted the home advantage to 25 points. Tries for Neath by Leigh Jones and Chris Higgs failed to make a significant dent in that lead.

The Scarlets ended with a flourish as Evans raced 40 metres for his hat- trick and then Nigel Davies ran in number six.

It looks as though the Swalec Cup could have scarlet ribbons on it once again.

Llanelli: Tries Evans 3, Hyatt, Moon, Davies; Conversions Warlow 2; Penalties Warlow 2. Neath: Tries L Jones, Higgs; Conversions John 2.

Llanelli: S Jones; G Evans, N Boobyer, N Davies, D Williams; C Warlo, R Moon (A Thomas, 71); H Williams-Jones, J Hyatt (K Jones, 65), R McBryde (capt), V Cooper, M Voyle, C Wyatt, H Jenkins, I Jones.

Neath: I Jones; C Higgs, T Davies, G Evans (capt), A Palfrey; R Davies (C John, h-t), C Bridges (P Horgan, h-t); D Morris, M Davies, B Evans, G Llewellyn, S Martin, M Bennett, L Jones, I Boobyer.

Referee: P Adams (Ebbw Vale).