Swansea 16 Llanelli 6. St Helen’s 13th October 1973
Another match from the Swansea RFC Archives…
VINTAGE RUGBY AS SWANSA BEAT RIVALS
By Ron Griffiths
Swansea, throbbing with rugby urgency, got the centenary celebrations off the ground with their best performance of the season, a 16 – 6 beating of Llanelli. A rousing red-blooded St Helen’s derby was not only a credit to both clubs but a splendid advertisement of the quality of Welsh rugby.
It brimmed over with action and lively entertainment as the powerful West Wales rivals met head on, shrugged off the bruises, redoubled their efforts and won a standing ovation at the end.
A match of skill, courage and high endeavour that deserves to be ranked as one of the outstanding contests between Swansea and Llanelli in recent years.
Swansea took the verdict on merit. They played positive, aggressive 15 – man rugby, scored two tries without reply, and bounced back from 6 – 0 down midway through the first half.
The decisive difference was the ball winning ability of the big Swansea locks Wheel and Glegg, plus the speed to the point of breakdown of Evans, Davies and Keyworth in the back-row.
As a result Swansea won most of the vital rucks and scored tries from two of them. In each case it was Wheel, who turned out another outstanding performance for the benefit of watching Wales selector, Rees Stephens, who fed the ball back.
Half an hour had gone and Llanelli, playing downwind, were 6 – nil in font when Wheel heaved the ball out, handed-off Selwyn Williams, and lobbed out a pass.
It wasn’t a good one, but Swansea’s eager backs still managed to make the most of it. Yandle thrust for the corner with full-back Blyth and wing Jones outside him. Blyth forced his way over.
Andy Hill had kicked Llanelli in front with two massive goals – a drop-kick from the edge of the touchline and a penalty from even longer range that was still climbing as it sailed between the posts.
But turning round only 6 – 4 in front to face the wind, Llanelli must have known the odds were stacked against them. And inside 10 minutes Swansea transformed the match by slipping into a 13 – 6 lead. First Blyth rifled over a 50 yard penalty goal and then converted a try by skipper Dyer. The try stemmed from exciting Swansea running, another feed from Wheel and a determined run at the defence from fly-half Protheroe.
Fine kicking from Protheroe, allied to the aggressiveness of centres Yandle and Morgan, helped to keep Swansea’s efforts on the boil, behind a pack in which Mervyn Davies reached peak form at No8, and Keyworth in a vital ball-killing role.
Llanelli dominated the scrums, with hooker Thomas taking at least half-a-dozen strikes against the put-in, but slow possession was something of an embarrassment for the backs Williams and Phil Bennett.
They often had to run bad ball but still managed to mount some exciting attacks, with centres Bergiers and Bernard Thomas finding excellent support from running props Crocker and Llewellyn and the dashing Gareth Jenkins.
Flanker Jenkins was easily Llanelli’s best forward. But he was often left to play a lone hand. Llanelli clearly need Hefin Jenkins at lock in this match, at No8, his best position.
Most of Swansea’s possession, from Clegg at the lines-out, and Wheel at the rucks, was quicker and cleaner.
The advantage was underlined near the end when Llanelli tried to run in a short penalty, were caught, then lost the ball in the ruck as Huw Morgan slipped it back for Dyer to drop a goal.
SWANSEA: 15: Roger Blyth, 14: Gerwyn Jones, 13: John Morgan, 12: Mike Yandle, 11: Gwynfor Higgins, 10: Dai Protheroe, 9: Robert Dyer ©, 8: Mervyn Davies, 7: Trevor Evans, 6: Mark Keyworth, 5: Barry Clegg, 4: Geoff Wheel, 3: Huw Morgan, 2: Brian Toms, 1: Neil Webb.
LLANELLI: 15: Keri Coslett, 14: J J Williams, 13: Roy Bergiers, 12: Bernard Thomas, 11: Andy Hill, 10: Phil Bennett, 9: Selwyn Williams, 8: Mike Griffiths, 7: Gareth Jenkins, 6: Alan James, 5: Hefin Jenkins, 4: Derek Quinnell, 3: Barry Llewellyn, 2: Roy Thomas, 1: Tony Crocker.
Look out for more match reports from the club archives appearing on this website soon
– and stay safe.