Rugby Union: Thomas gives Swansea extra bite

Swansea 39 Llanelli 27
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The Independent Online
IF THE so-called Rebel Two thought they could just march back into Wales and sweep all before them after a year of playing away with England's top brass, then they were very much mistaken.

After two rounds of the Welsh-Scottish League, Cardiff have yet to win and Swansea only moved off the bottom of the table thanks to a late charge in the closing eight minutes of this classic West Wales derby.

Having revealed their power in crushing the Welsh double winners, Llanelli, in last season's Swalec Cup final, the All Whites, now re-branded as the Great Whites, seemed to be a cut above the rest.

For the first 30 minutes they looked stronger, faster, and more determined. They raced 17 points clear, notched two great tries, and looked set for a massacre. But anyone who has ever witnessed a "Jacks v Turks" derby knows that one team never gets too far away from the other in the end. While Llanelli looked down and out at 23-6, they were still able to dig deep into their physical and mental reserves to find a way back.

They shunned a simple three points two minutes before the interval and instead kicked for a line-out close to the home line. Their belief was rewarded with a try by Byron Hayward.

With the deficit cut to 10 points the Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins at least had something positive to build on in his half-time talk. Whatever he said did not fall on deaf ears. Within 15 minutes of the restart his side were ahead.

Hayward bagged his second with a classic move off the back of the scrum after the stand-in No 8 Simon Easterby picked up on the 22 and fed the scrum-half Rupert Moon.

Then the Scarlets struck a sucker blow when a Hayward drop-goal attempt drifted wide and the Swansea defenders, guilty of ball-watching, found Wayne Proctor galloping up to touch down behind the posts.

Swansea had been surprisingly muted up until that time in the second half, but Thomas got them back into the game with three more penalties and a conversion of a penalty, pushover try.

Swansea: Tries Robinson, Richard Jones, penalty try; Conversions A Thomas 3; Penalties A Thomas 6. Llanelli: Tries Hayward 2, Proctor; Conversions Hayward 3; Penalties Hayward 2.

Swansea: A Lawson, R Rees, A Barnard (L Davies, 49), Richard Jones (D Griffiths, 77), M Robinson, A Thomas (capt), Robert Jones, D Morris, C Wells, C Anthony, T Maullin, J Griffiths, R Appleyard, P Moriarty, D Thomas (L Jones, 56).

Llanelli: M Cardey (C Warlow, 48), W Proctor (capt), S Finau, R Davies (G John, 55-61, 64), G Evans, B Hayward, R Moon, S Emms, M Thomas, J Davies (M Madden, 64), C Gillies (S Martin, 64), V Cooper, H Jenkins (I Jones, 40), S Easterby, I Boobyer.

Referee: G Symmonds (Cardiff).