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Rugby Union: Proctor punishes Newport

Llanelli 68 Newport 26
STRADEY PARK is not a happy hunting ground for Newport. No victory in the west for 21 seasons, seven league defeats in seven appearances, a record 72-10 humiliation there six years ago and not even a close squeak in recent times. There was more than the usual amount of trepidation in the air as the Newport players mustered for the 70-minute bus trip.

Not even the good news from Thursday night's Welsh Rugby Union general committee meeting that the club will be getting their fair share of the Premier Division's pounds 4m hand-out this season could raise a smile.

Better news, however, is that next week, when the black and ambers get back into European Shield action, they will have two New Zealand forwards ready to pep up their pack. The North Harbour No 8 David Wheeler is all set to join Wellington Hurricanes flanker Brad Clark at Rodney Parade. Their pedigree will undoubtedly have a major impact on future performances. The back line is also set for a shake-up with the introduction of three rugby league players, including the Welsh international Jason Critchley, and there are signs that Newport might just have a future in the top flight.

Not that Llanelli were in any mood to play a part in a long overdue Newport revival. By half-time they had notched 40 points and there was another avalanche after the break as Newport conceded 10 tries in all to make it 39 at Stradey Park in their last four visits.

No wonder the Llanelli scrum-half Rupert Moon has talked about the frustration of playing domestic league rugby. His view is that players in Wales were only being stretched in European matches and he craves the creation of a British League.

All this game did was give the home players the chance to shine in attack in a game that turned into a training romp. Wales wing Wayne Proctor notched two tries, to take over from Steve Ford as the National League's greatest try scorer with 85, but there was a sting in the tail for the Scarlets. Looking certain to bag two bonus points, they went to sleep and allowed Newport to score 26 points without reply, including four tries, two for replacement flanker David Gray.

It meant Llanelli had to galvanise themselves for one final push and Roddy Boobyer saved the day with try No 10. To add insult to injury for Newport, their Canadian international prop Rod Snow, after spending 10 first-half minutes in the sinbin, was sent off two minutes from time.

Llanelli: G John; W Proctor, R Boobyer, N Boobyer (C Warlow 54), G Evans (D Rogers 23); S Jones, R Moon; P Booth, R McBryde (capt), M Madden (S Gale 68), V Cooper, M Voyle, D Hodges (I Boobyer 76), I Jones, C Wyatt.

Newport: G King; A Harris, M Watkins, S Mitchell, M Llewellyn; S Connor (L Jones 54), N Lloyd; R Snow, G Hicks, S Cronk (capt, C Johnson 45), G Rowlands (J Sulway 45), M Workman, A Popham (D Gray 52), B Clarke (I Jones 79), J Powell (I Jones 15-27).

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff)