Rugby Union: Penaud shines for Saracens

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Llanelli 9 Saracens 55

THE KING is dead, long live the King. After the passing of the Australian Michael Lynagh, Saracens have unearthed a superb Frenchman in Alain Penaud. The man who inspired Brive to a European Cup triumph two seasons ago tormented Llanelli in last night's meeting of the respective Cup winners from England and Wales.

Penaud was one of 10 internationals from six nations to turn up at Stradey Park against a home side bereft of eight first-team regulars. How they missed them. After a bright start, Llanelli found themselves playing on the back foot. By the end of the first half some of the home forwards were almost out on their feet.

By then Penaud was starting to weave his magic, playing a major role in three tries just before the interval that quickly and cruelly improved Saracens' early advantage to 21 points.

From then on, despite two more penalties from the Llanelli outside-half Stephen Jones, it became a canter for the visitors. While Penaud was the catalyst for some brilliant attacking play, the physical power of the Saracens defence wore down the home team. Llanelli struggled to cross the gain line and were always thwarted when they wanted to recycle possession. By contrast, Saracens scored tries off fifth and sixth phase possession.

Penaud finally departed after 68 minutes with two tries to his credit and Saracens ran in nine in all.

Llanelli: Penalties S Jones 3. Saracens: Tries Penaud 2; Thomson 2; Johnson, Constable, Coker, Singer, Hill; Conversions Johnson 2; Penaud 2, Lee.

Llanelli: G John (D Rogers, 41); Garan Evans, N Boobyer (M Jones, 56), N Davies, D Williams; S Jones, A Thomas (R Phillips, 68); A Jones (D Jones, 46), R McBryde (capt), M Madden, M Morgan, T Copsey, A Chiffi, Graham Evans, G Evans.

Saracens: G Johnson (Thirlby, 52, R Constable, 66); M Singer, R Constable (S Ravenscroft, 64), J Thomson, B Daniel (R Wallace, 59); A Penaud (A Lee, 68), K Bracken (M Powell, 60); R Grau (B Reidy, 68), G Chuter (G Botterman, 68), P Wallace, T Coker, C Yandell, B Cole, T Diprose (capt), R Hill.

Referee: A Lewis (IRFU).

Robert Howley, the Wales captain, has withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games squad because he is not match fit. The Cardiff scrum-half is replaced by the Swansea stand-off Arwel Thomas.