By: Paul Hopkins
The All Whites completed a well-earned league double over rivals Llanelli in the traditional festive derby.
Fly half Ioan Hughes was given an early opportunity to kick deep into the Swansea twenty-two after the visitors strayed in front of a kick. Lock Ed Couzens took the lineout, but Hughes’ drop goal attempt was charged down.
Offside at the ruck by the Whites’ pack gave Hughes another penalty chance, which he again kicked to the corner. This time lock Chris Long collected the lineout and Swansea brought down the maul illegally. Hughes chipped to the corner again, but it wasn’t to be for the home side as Long spilled the ball forward.
A superb chip and chase out of defence by scrum half Chris Morgans forced winger Liam Hutchings into a hurried clearance that sailed out on the full. The Whites’ forwards made good yards before number eight Jon Fox was penalised for crossing.
The Llanelli defence stepped offside in midfield, giving fly half Josh Thomas a chance to grab the first points of the afternoon, but he dragged his effort wide of the posts.
Centre Callum Carson made a half break, but was brought down on the twenty-two, before Morgans side stepped past a tackle. The visitors got quick ball out wide but centre Jack Evans was held up over the line. Play was brought back for a penalty though, and Thomas made no mistake this time to kick his side ahead.
The home side should have replied straight away when centre Ryan Davies made a break from the restart, but he failed to get his pass out wide to winger Ashley Sutton and the move broke down.
Morgans made a superb break from a ruck as the visitors attacked again, but a crucial tackle by Davies prevented a certain Gareth Rees try in the corner.
A loose Hughes kick was picked up by prop Tom Sloane who got his side moving quickly. Long was penalised for a professional foul and Thomas kicked to the corner. Lock Shaun O’Rourke just about held onto the lineout and Morgans found acres of space to drop a goal.
But it seemed to jolt the home side into action as flanker Elis Hopkins collected a loose lineout and used his strength to hold off a tackle to score. Hughes converted.
Long collected a lineout on half way with Sutton and full back Kalum Evans combining in midfield, but Hutchings was unable to take a pass outside as a second try went begging.
Half-time:- Llanelli 7 Swansea 6
A high kick by winger Max Nagy was well taken by Kalum Evans, but a forward pass gifted the visitors an attacking platform deep inside the Llanelli half. The Swansea pack were penalised at the scrum though.
Hughes found touch just eight metres from the Swansea try line with a penalty, but flanker Jay Williams nipped in to steal the lineout.
Hooker Greg George spotted a gap and raced 20 metres downfield, but his chip ahead was easily defended by the Whites who were able to force a handling error.
Kalum Evans came to within inches of an interception try, but Rees held onto the ball and in a twist of fate full back Phil Jones chipped ahead with a favourable bounce allowing him to score. Thomas converted.
Replacement winger Ryan Griffiths almost added a second Whites try out wide and was brought down a metre short of the line, but Thomas was unable to take the pass, giving Llanelli a reprieve.
A powerful drive by the Swansea pack earned a penalty a few metres short of the Llanelli line and Thomas kicked to touch. The home forwards managed to repel the maul though and secured a turnover.
Fox made a superb break through a tiring Llanelli defence and found hooker Shawn Howard in support. The home side gave away another penalty with replacement prop Ryan Thomas given a ticking off.
Carson raced through the middle and found Sloane on his shoulder. It looked like Jones had touched down in the corner, but his foot touched the whitewash.
The visitors grabbed a second try in style when an enterprising move by the backs ending with Carson throwing a long pass out wide for Griffiths to score. Thomas converted.
Llanelli looked to hit back when Hopkins charged towards the line, finding Sutton in support, but play was brought back after the visitors were penalised for offside. The home side were almost handed a lifeline, but Couzens was held up over the line.
In the dying moments of the game Hughes chipped to touch with a penalty and Llanelli were rewarded with a losing bonus point try through replacement flanker Harry Breeze following a powerful drive. Hughes converted.
Full-time:- Llanelli 14 Swansea 20
Tries:- Elis Hopkins (35), Harry Breeze (80+7)
Cons:- Ioan Hughes (36, 80+8)
Tries:- Phil Jones (55), Ryan Griffiths (71)
Cons:- Josh Thomas (56, 72)
Pens:- Josh Thomas (23)
DGs:- Chris Morgans (34)
Venue:- Parc Y Scarlets
Weather:- Cloudy, 10C
Man of the match:- Tom Sloane
15 Kalum Evans (rep: Eray Wilson 57)
14 Ashley Sutton
13 Ryan Davies
12 Jonny Lewis © (rep: Iwan Evans 69)
11 Liam Hutchings (rep: Samuel Langford 74)
10 Ioan Hughes
9 Iwan Temblett (rep: Ifan Beynon-Thomas 67)
1 Steffan Phillips (rep: Stefan Bond 40+5)
2 Greg George (rep: Rhys Cherry 59)
3 Gareth Harvard (rep: Ryan Thomas 52)
4 Chris Long
5 Ed Couzens
6 Elis Hopkins
7 Jacob Lewis (rep: Harry Breeze 61)
8 Nathan Hart
16 Rhys Cherry
17 Stefan Bond
18 Ryan Thomas
19 Samuel Langford
20 Harry Breeze
21 Ifan Beynon-Thomas
22 Iwan Evans
23 Eray Wilson
15 Phil Jones (rep: Steffen Williams 80)
14 Gareth Rees (rep: Tom Ham 80+5)
13 Callum Carson
12 Jack Evans (rep: Ryan Griffiths 56)
11 Max Nagy
10 Josh Thomas
9 Chris Morgans
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Rhys Davies 80)
2 Shawn Howard (rep: Matthew Moore 80)
3 Greg Cunniffe (rep: Jordan Pritchard 52)
4 Shaun O’Rourke
5 Owen Morgan (rep: James Fender 61)
6 Jay Williams
7 Callum Bowden
8 Jon Fox © (rep: Ben Asprea 76)
16 Matthew Moore
17 Rhys Davies
18 Jordan Pritchard
19 James Fender
20 Ben Asprea
21 Tom Ham
22 Steffen Williams
23 Ryan Griffiths