Rugby Union: Prosser the lock sees scarlet

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Llanelli. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

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

ALMOST a year to the day since their famous victory over Australia, Llanelli looked anything other than world beaters against a side reduced to 14 men after only six minutes.

Pontypridd's ability to self-destruct against the Scarlets materialised again when Greg Prosser, their giant lock, became their fourth player to be sent off in three years against Llanelli for stamping at a ruck.

With the 6ft 7in policemen went any realistic hopes the visitors' had of making it five league points out of seven at Stradey Park, although they hung on doggedly to expose more than a few weaknesses in the armour of the champions.

The appalling conditions obviously had an effect on the game, but the best Llanelli teams have always been able to counteract such problems. The current crop were never able to raise their standards in such a way and looked a shadow of last year's all-conquering team.

The biggest change has come in the form and confidence of Colin Stephens, their former Wales outside-half. A match-winner against the Wallabies with two superb drop goals and eight points all told, he struggled throughout this game.

There was a drop goal to open the scoring moments before Prosser received his marching orders, but that success apart there was little or nothing from Stephens. A new No 10 at Stradey Park has been muted for some time and the search is likely to be stepped up after recent performances from last year's hero.

The player everyone wants to fill the outside-half jersey, Neil Jenkins, was once again his competent self for Pontypridd. He ran the game superbly for the visitors and kicked the two penalties that kept his side in touch.

He would do nicely for Llanelli - or Cardiff, Swansea or Newport, who have also been chasing him - and the sooner the Welsh selectors restore him the better.

Llanelli's current strength will be put to the test at The Gnoll next Saturday when meeting the team they overtook at the top of the table with this win. Neath missed out at the weekend because of a waterlogged pitch at Cross Keys, but will be keen to maintain their unbeaten run against the Scarlets.

Missing from that game will be Ieuan Evans. The Llanelli and Wales wing has twisted his right ankle and will be in plaster for 10 days and out of action for a month.

Llanelli: Try Lamerton; Drop goal Stephens. Pontypridd: Penalties Jenkins 2.

Llanelli: H Williams; I Evans (I Jones, 65), N Davies, S Davies, W Proctor; C Stephens, R Moon (capt); R Evans, A Lamerton, S John, P Davies, A Copsey, E Lewis, S Quinnell, M Perego.

Pontypridd: M Back; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, O Robbins; N Jenkins, P John; N Bezani (capt), N Meek, M Powell, K Gallagher, G Prosser, N Jones, C Jarman, P Thomas.

Referee: C Roderick (Ammanford).