Rugby Union: Quinnell the catalyst

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The Independent Online
Llanelli 62 Caerphilly 7

SCOTT QUINNELL is back in the old routine and everyone at Stradey Park is looking forward to a new golden era following the return of their prodigal son.

The mighty Quin scored his first try in four years at his old stamping ground in what was his third game for the Scarlets since returning from his sojourn in England at rugby league giants Wigan and Allied Dunbar Premiership One club Richmond.

But even if adding another try to the many he scored before his departure was welcome, the real difference is that there is now a greater degree of maturity and accountability in the Welsh No 8's game.

"Scott makes good yardage, as he always did, and always ensures the ball is recycled. He has returned a much more mature player," Gareth Jenkins, the Llanelli coach, said.

"His attitude has been fashioned by one of the best professional rugby teams around in Wigan and he is a great professional. He had a very impressive game for us."

Top of Jenkins' silverware shopping list is the Premier Division title which, thanks to maximum bonus points in this game, they look well set to win given their two-point lead at the top over major rivals Pontypridd. This month the Scarlets also have the WRU Challenge Trophy to concentrate on and Jenkins is keen to keep the profile of his side as high as possible this season.

With a British league looking likely next winter Jenkins is hell-bent on ensuring that Llanelli are part of the new elite.

"Things are changing so rapidly in rugby union and at the end of this month it looks as though the future of Welsh rugby will have been determined," Jenkins said. "It is vital that we keep our momentum going, because reputations are so important at this time. We feel we deserve to be up there with the top clubs in Britain, but... the only way to guarantee that is by winning and winning well."

They certainly did both those things against a stubborn Caerphilly side, running in 10 tries in all. The only blemish on a near-perfect afternoon was the 15th-minute injury to Byron Hayward, who looks likely to be sidelined for up to six weeks with knee ligament damage.

That apart, Jenkins had every reason to be pleased.

Llanelli Tries: Wyatt 3, Williams 2, Finau, Voyle, Rogers, Quinnell, Moon; Conversions: Jones 6. Caerphilly Try: Bray; Conversion: Davey.

Llanelli: B Hayward (D Rogers, 15); W Proctor, S Finau, N Davies, D Williams; S Jones, R Moon; P Booth, R McBride (capt), M Madden (S Gale, 73), C Wyatt, M Voyle, H Jenkins (D Hodges, 61), S Quinnell (V Cooper, 61), I Jones.

Caerphilly: B Davey; D Starr (N Berbillion, 70), R Bidgood, A Palfrey, R Wintle; C John, J Hooper (W Bray, 70); R Bilton, C Ferris, M Wilson (S Price, 66), D Niblo (A Evans, 54), N Jones (capt), B Watkins (G Jones, 45), P Agar, C Brown.

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff).

n The record Scotland cap holder, Scott Hastings, has announced his retirement from representative rugby. The 34-year-old Lions centre, who played 65 times for his country, announced his decision after playing for Edinburgh Reivers in the final of the Tennent's Velvet Tri-Series against Glasgow Caledonians at Netherdale yesterday.

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