Rugby Union: Swansea sunk by Scarlets' superior style

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The Independent Online
Llanelli. . .29

Swansea. . . .18

IT HAS been said before, but that does not mean it cannot be said again. If Welsh club rugby can serve up such stirring, committed and skilful games as this, and in a semi-final of the Swalec Cup too, why is it that Wales look so ordinary at international level?

This was a sparkling game, played at a hectic pace, in which no quarter was asked and none given. There were five tries in all and the action, particularly in the second half, swept from end to end in a manner that must have delighted those who believe rugby should be a running and passing game on all occasions.

At times Llanelli were dazzling. They deserved to reach their fifth cup final in six years and when they face Neath in two weeks' time they will be attempting to win the cup for a ninth time. The double is on, too; they need one point from their two remaining games to secure the Heineken League title.

It is said that you cannot score tries from set-piece play. Llanelli can. Their first came from a scrum and owed much to Ian Jones's speed, which was one striking feature of the afternoon. He created the second try, too, bursting into the three-quarter line and splintering Swansea's defence to create an overlap that allowed Ieuan Evans to scamper over. Their third try was a model of wing play in which Wayne Proctor weaved this way and that, so confusing Mark Titley that he ran the try in from 40 yards.

Swansea shot themselves in the foot in the opening moments. They were so anxious to raise their game against their old rivals that they allowed their passion to spill over into violence. Twice Rupert Moon, Llanelli's sparky scrum-half and inspirational captain, was clubbed to the ground and Colin Stephens kicked both penalties. Then came Jones's try and another penalty by Stephens, which effectively ended Swansea's chances.

But they tried after half-time, raising the pace of the game almost to a frenzy. For 15 minutes they laid siege to Llanelli's line but could score only one penalty. Then came Evans's try, a fourth penalty by Stephens and Proctor's try, and Llanelli were out of sight.

The tries that Simon Davies and Richard Webster scored in the closing minutes were attractive but meaningless, faint dabs on a broad, bold canvas. 'When the sun comes out we shine,' Moon said. How right he was.

Llanelli: I Jones; I Evans (N Boobyer, 74 min), N Davies, S Davies, W Proctor; C Stephens, R Moon (capt); R Evans, A Lamerton, D Joseph, P Davies, A Copsey, M Perego (S Quinnell, 54 min), L Jones, E Lewis.

Swansea: A Clement; M Titley, S Gibbs, K Hopkins, S Davies; A Williams, D Weatherley; I Buckett, R McBryde, K Colclough, P Arnold, R Moriarty, I Davies (A Reynolds, 68 min), R Webster, S Davies (capt).

Referee: C Thomas (Bryncoch).

Scorers: Stephens (pen, 10 min, 3-0); Stephens (pen, 14 min, 6-0); I Jones (try, 27 min, 11-0); Stephens (pen, 39 min, 14-0); Williams (pen, 41 min, 14-3); Williams (pen, 54 min, 14-6); I Evans (try, 55 min, 19-6); Stephens (pen, 71 min, 22-6); Proctor / Stephens (try / con, 74 min, 29-6); S Davies (try, 77 min, 29-11); Webster / Williams (try / con, 83 min, 29-18).