RUGBY UNION: Purple patch by Scarlets sinks tired Ebbw Vale

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Llanelli 35 Ebbw Vale 18

EBBW VALE, keen to make an impact in domestic and European competition this season, will have to scrutinise Saturday's performance.

For 40 minutes, give or take an occasional Scarlet riposte, they totally dominated and fully deserved an 18-point opening burst, including two tries from their underrated wing, Alun Harries.

But instead of capitalising, the Steelmen capitulated with surprising tameness as Llanelli found more than a second wind and cruised home with an energetic second half performance which delighted their coach Gareth Jenkins.

"I was very pleased with our second 40 minutes and I thought Martin Morgan did exceptionally well for someone so inexperienced".

Jenkins might have also paid tribute to his other forwards, who having been brusquely treated, found that the Vale pack lacked stamina.

Vale's veteran, Richie Collins, and their captain, Kingsley Jones, tried in vain to rally the troops, but once Phil Booth and David Hodges had scored early second-half tries Llanelli were in the driving seat with their half-backs, Aled Thomas and Stephen Jones, growing in confidence.

Jones had a memorable afternoon with 15 points as he punished Vale's lapses, and he had a hand in Llanelli's final try, by Darril Williams.

The battle between last season's SWALEC Cup finalists was, in the end, disappointing, which may have been anticipated by the fans who stayed away or watched on television. Empty seats suggest both clubs have to examine their product.

Llanelli: Tries Proctor, Booth, Hodges, Williams; Conversions S Jones 3; Drop goal S Jones; Penalties S Jones 2. Ebbw Vale: Tries Harries 2; Conversion Hayward; Penalties Hayward 2.

Llanelli: D Williams; W Proctor, N Davies, N Boobyer, G Evans; S Jones, A Thomas; P Booth (S Gale, 54), R McBryde, M Madden (A Jones, 54), M Morgan, A Copsey, D Hodges (A Chiffi 33-44), H Jenkins, I Jones.

Ebbw Vale: J Strange; A Harries, J Hawker (G Williams, 38), J Funnell, L Woodard; B Hayward, D Llewellyn; A Phillips (I Thomas, 65), S Jones, A Metcalfe, C Billen, K Faletau (L Banks, 62), R Collins, G Green (N Budgett, 62), K Jones.

Referee: H Lewis (Bridgend).