Davies double keeps Llanelli in command

Llanelli Scarlets 28 Neath-Swansea Ospreys 15
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The Independent Online

Llanelli began the new year in ominous style as they maintained their Celtic League charge with a derby win over the Neath-Swansea Ospreys.

Barry Davies crossed twice last night as the Scarlets outscored their visitors four tries to nil in the perfect warm-up for next week's return to the Heineken Cup. But this defeat will have been particularly painful for the Ospreys, who went down to their seventh successive defeat after the game had been in the balance for more than an hour.

The names may be new but the traditional rivalries still capture the public's imagination with the kick-off delayed to accommodate a 10,000 crowd who did not have to wait long for the west Wales derby to open up.

Llanelli's response to Shaun Connor's early penalty was emphatic and though the ball moved through 10 sets of hands from Salesi Finau's break, there more than a touch a fortune about their opening try. The Canadian prop John Thiel lost possession after breaking two tackles only for the ball to rebound off an Osprey defender for Davies to pick up and score.

Connor made Llanelli pay for indiscipline by hauling the Ospreys back into the lead with a further three penalties, but the Scarlets again enjoyed the bounce of the ball for their second on the stroke of half-time. The Ospreys failed to clear their lines, having survived a scrum in front of their posts after Andy Williams was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball, and when Davies sliced a long-range drop-goal attempt, the ball fell to Finau who sent Matthew Watkins over.

The second-half degenerated into a war of attrition up front and the introduction of the British Lions Scott Quinnell, Robin McBryde and Mark Taylor hinted at Llanelli's nervousness after Connor had levelled the scores.

The World Cup sensation Shane Williams was at his jinking best for the Ospreys but it was a cutting run by Watkins that sealed the game. He stepped inside five defenders in succession before launching a huge wide pass for Davies to race into the corner. Quinnell ensured Llanelli took a bonus point with a late try.

Llanelli Scarlets: Tries B Davies 2, M Watkins, S Quinnell. Conversion G Bowen. Penalties G Bowen 2. Neath-Swansea Ospreys: Penalty S Connor 5.

Llanelli Scarlets: B Davies; G Evans, T Selley (M Taylor, 58), M Watkins, S Finau; G Bowen (S Jones, 75), M Phillips (D Peel, 75); I Thomas, A Gravelle (R McBryde, 53), J Thiel, V Cooper (capt, A Jones, 76), C Wyatt, D Jones, D Hodges (S Quinnell, 53; P John, 80), S Easterby.

Neath-Swansea Ospreys: S Williams; D Tiueti, E Seveali'I, S Gibbs (capt), S Terblanche; S Connor, A Williams; A Millward (C Griffiths 5-9, 72), B Williams, A Jones, A Newman, J Thomas, J Bater (G Llewellyn, 48), N Bonner-Evans (G Llewellyn, 25-32 ), R Pugh (G Thomas, 48).

Referee: N Whitehouse (Gower).

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