Llanelli cruised into yet another Welsh Cup semi-final with a rousing performance that at times left Newport shell-shocked and bedraggled. Scott Quinnell was outstanding with his bullocking runs and firmly staked his claim for a recall to the Wales team next weekend, in front of the national coach, Graham Henry.
Llanelli's fly-half, Stephen Jones, also confirmed his fine form with a personal tally of 21 points including two tries. One concern for Henry was what appeared to be a serious spinal injury to the full-back, Matt Cardey, who was carried off on a stretcher following a 10-minute stoppage. It was later confirmed that Cardey was only winded and badly shaken, although he may struggle to make Dublin next Saturday.
Llanelli are renowned cup fighters, and can boast, and often do, a record 10 cup-final triumphs. The mere mention of Stradey Park has a debilitating effect on visiting sides, as could be confirmed by Wasps, Ulster and Cardiff, whose noses have been well and truly bloodied here this season.
Newport, who quashed Cardiff in the last round, managed to sneak a rare victory at Llanelli earlier this season, but that was prior to the World Cup, in the days of depleted teams, and was no great marker. Newport travelled west more in hope than with any great expectation, although their new captain, Gary Teichmann, used all his experience and talent to cajole his team to give it their best shot.
The crowd appearedenthralled with the battlebetween Shane Howarth, he of the eligibility fiasco, and Cardey the local hero, albeit from New Zealand, Howarth's successor in the Welsh team. Unfortunately, the duel never materialised due to Cardey's injury.
Llanelli and Quinnell were quickly into their stride, and a rampaging run from the home No 8 tore the Newport defence to shreds. The recycled ballallowed fJones to cross for a try.
Teichmann lifted Newport hopes with a 70-metre sprint, but spoilt his effort by kicking prematurely. Andy Marinos was next to threaten in midfield for Newport and Llanelli's Simon Easterby could only prevent his surge by conceding a penalty. Howarth succeeded with the kick.
On the half-hour a retreating Llanelli scrum proved the timely camouflage as Quinnell and Rupert Moon charged for the line.Jones finally sent the wing Salesi Finau hurtling through an apology for atackle from Franco Smith, to score at the posts.
Jones then scythed through a fragile Newport defence to bring the first-half proceedings to a close.
Having softened up Newport, Llanelli proceeded to throw even more caution to the wind, with Finau barging over for his second try, and a further penalty try. Newport responded with two sharp tries from the wing Martin Llewellyn and the scrum-half Dale Burn, but it was never to be enough.
Llanelli: M Cardey (G Evans, 38); W Proctor (capt), D James, N Boobyer (M Jones, 70), S Finau; S Jones, R Moon (D Peel, 78); P Booth, R McBryde, J Davies (M Madden), C Wyatt, C Gillies, S Easterby, S Quinnell, I Boobyer.
Newport: S Howarth; M Llewellyn, J Jones-Hughes, A Marinos, B Breeze; F Smith, D Burn; P Rogers, D Cummins, L Mustoe, S Raiwalui, M Workman (G Taylor, 50), A Gibbs (A Popham, 50), G Teichmann (capt), J Forster.
Referee: R Elliot (Cardiff).