A small band of intrepid supporters, including a fair number of players from the rising injury list, made their way through the slanting rain to Parc y Scarlets last night in the hope of beating Llanelli for the first time at the ground. However, a fairly lack lustre performance from the Quins, so different from those of the previous weeks, ensured that victory would have to wait another year.
Both sides tried to play rugby in very slippery conditions but Carmarthen particularly seemed to lack that cutting edge, failed to gain much advantage with their kicking game and generally both defences remained on top. Jason Harries, Darren Daniel and Andrew Banfield particularly tried hard, and with some success, to run back kicks at Llanelli but it was always from deep and the moves did not really trouble the home side’s line.
The scoring in the first half revolved around penalty kicks. James Dixon spurned an early opportunity opting for touch, missed one from 25m. but slotted one on the half hour to level the scores. Diggy Bird hit the posts with his first but was then successful from 50m. to give his side the lead and then again at the end of the half to regain the lead. The second penalty was the only score, too, when Ricky Guest was off the field in the sin bin.
The Quins began the second half brightly but again kept losing the ball too easily at the breakdown so that building phases was proving difficult. Set pieces were good most of the time for the visitors but destroying the Llanelli scrum and subsequently losing the ball led to the first try when Bird picked up the ball, made the initial break and then aided by Steffan Hughes took the ball deep into the Carmarthen “22”. Second phase ball led to a try for Dale Ford and Bird added the extras to take a ten point lead.
With ten minutes of the match remaining poor delivery from a Quins line out forced Carmarthen into touching the ball down over their own line. Llanelli moved the ball quickly from their 5m. scrum and Chris Keenan was able to go over in the corner. Bird converted and the game was well and truly lost.
The visitors continued to attack after Dixon athletically kept in a touch finder near his own line and returned the ball to touch 80m. downfield. Many phases later, and with Llanelli players committing penalty offences by the dozen to prevent scoring, the Quins gained a consolation, unconverted try when substitute, Chris Banfield touched down. Not that it mattered, but Ed Price and Berian Watkins were yellow carded at this time.
Llanelli deserved their victory generally being sharper and more street-wise where it counted so that the final score was Llanelli 20 Carmarthen Quins 8.
Footnote ~ Congratulations to Richard Wilkes and Gareth Thomas who make their debut for Scarlets against Worcester today. Lee Williams is also listed to play on the wing.
Reporter ~ Keith Bond