By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea fought off a spirited Llanelli comeback to run out 27-19 winners at Parc Y Scarlets and climb to fourth in the Premiership Cup West group.
The visitors were awarded an early penalty, but fly half James Davies missed touch, allowing full back Iwan Evans to clear into the visitors’ half.
Lock Matt Dodd took a lineout with centre J Rhys Williams bursting through the middle before he was tap tackled. The ball was worked out wide to winger Llien Morgan, but the supporting lock Jay Williams spilled possession forward under pressure.
A powerful All Whites scrum earned a penalty inside the Llanelli half and James Davies found touch on the 22. Lock Ashley Hyndman leapt high at the lineout to steal the ball though.
A quick lineout caught the home side asleep with the Whites able to attack through the pacey winger Gareth Rees, but as Swansea worked play into the middle, flanker Iestyn Merriman became isolated and held on after the tackle.
Lock Chris Long collected a routine lineout but hooker Owen Thomas superbly ripped possession back for the visitors. Play became scrappy so James Davies opted to kick into touch to gain territorial advantage.
The visitors deservedly opened the scoring when Merriman burst through a tackle and found James Davies in support. The fly half drew in a man and fired a pass out wide for full back Harri Houston to score. James Davies converted.
Swansea were straight back on the attack with James Davies kicking a 50-22 deep inside the home 22. Number eight Charlie Davies took the lineout and fed prop Tom Sloane for a simple try at the corner. J Rhys Williams converted.
The Whites were penalised for an offence on the ground, which gave the home side their first attacking chance. Fly half Llew Smith found touch on the 22 and a powerful maul was illegally brought down two metres short of the line. Smith again kicked to the corner and the pack mauled towards the line, but Rees superbly managed to get his hand on the ball to secure a penalty turnover.
J Rhys Williams failed to make touch from the penalty, but a mistake by the home side saw Rees hack the ball forward from his own 22. With the Llanelli defence struggling to get back, Rees chipped forward again and beat the defending Evans to score. J Rhys Williams converted.
The Whites’ pack earned another penalty at the scrum and J Rhys Williams found touch inside the Llanelli 22. Flanker Leon McNally drifted in to take an unorthodox lineout throw and Thomas looked to burrow through a tackle, but referee Simon Rees halted play on the advice of his assistant. After a brief discussion replacement fly half R Rhys Williams was shown a yellow card for an off the ball incident.
Scrum half Connor Tantum and Houston combined in midfield as the visitors went in search of a first half bonus point, but following a home mistake, Thomas was penalised for failing to allow release in the tackle.
Dodd rose high to collect a lineout and the pack powered over the 22, but a mistake handed Llanelli possession. With the game becoming full of small niggles, hooker Rhys Cherry and Sloane were yellow carded for a fight.
Winger Harrison Button came close to breaking through the middle, but was held on halfway. The home side recycled the ball with flanker Jacob Lewis, Evans and winger Tristan James linking up in midfield. A professional foul by Houston earned him a yellow card – the fourth card of the half.
Number eight Nathan Hart took a lineout in the Swansea 22 and used Llanelli’s numerical advantage behind the scrum to get quick ball out wide for Button to score. Smith converted.
Half-time:- Llanelli 7-21 Swansea
Centre Hanno Dirksen plucked a high ball out of the air to set his side on the attack after the interval, but Evans easily fielded J Rhys Williams’ territorial kick.
Button showed superb pace to dance past five tackles, before he was finally held by J Rhys Williams a few metres short of the line. The home side slipped the ball out wide, but play slowed up and the move broke down.
A superb chip through by Smith almost resulted in a try for James, but Morgan did well to chase back and run his side out of danger.
A long pass out wide found Button, but he was well wrapped up by Morgan and R Rhys Williams. The home side continued to attack, and Hart almost burst through a tackle, before the visitors were penalised for a high tackle. Smith turned down the kickable penalty and instead chipped into the corner. The home pack rumbled towards the line, but Cherry as held up over the line.
From the resulting scrum five the home side were awarded a penalty, which scrum half Ifan Beynon-Thomas took quickly. Smith chipped to the corner, but Button was unable to collect his kick, although play was brought back for another penalty. Long almost squeezed over the whitewash, but he was held up on the line.
The immense home pressure on the Swansea line soon told with Harrison Button squeezing over at the corner for his second try. Llew Smith missed the conversion.
J Rhys Williams and Thomas both made half breaks but a mistake allowed Smith to kick deep into the Swansea 22, forcing Rees into a hurried clearance.
A powerful drive from the lineout set up a Llanelli attack and Hart charged towards the line, but was tackled and subsequently held onto possession on the ground too long.
Llanelli continued to inject pace into the game with Beynon-Thomas and Smith linking up in midfield. Replacement prop Tom Zoogah powered over the 22, before the ball was fed out wide for centre Ryan Davies to touch down in the corner. Smith converted.
It took the Whites almost 30 minutes to embark on their first meaningful attack of the second half with R Rhys Williams and Houston making half breaks, forcing the home side offside in midfield. J Rhys Williams stemmed the tide by kicking the three pointer.
The Swansea front row was forced downwards at a scrum, but Smith’s attempted chip to the corner sailed over the dead ball line, much to the visitors’ relief.
Evans failed to take a Chris Morgans box kick, gifting the visitors a scrum inside the Llanelli half. The Whites kept possession well and looked threatening as the home side gave away a crucial penalty, which J Rhys Williams kicked to seal victory.
With time running out the home backs tried to run out of defence, but a mistake, compounded by an offside offence, gave Swansea a penalty. J Rhys Williams kicked to the corner as the All Whites went in search of a bonus point, but the throw by replacement hooker Aneurin James was crooked so his side had to settle for a four point win.
Full-time:- Llanelli 19-27 Swansea
Tries:- Harrison Button (40+3, 57), Ryan Davies (68)
Cons:- Llew Smith (40+4, 69)
Yellow cards:- Rhys Cherry (35)
Tries:- Harri Houston (11), Tom Sloane (14), Gareth Rees (21)
Cons:- James Davies (12), J Rhys Williams (15, 22)
Pens:- J Rhys Williams (72, 80+2)
Yellow cards:- R Rhys Williams (28), Tom Sloane (35), Harri Houston (38)
Venue:- Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli
Weather:- Light cloud, 13C
Referee:- Simon Rees
Man of the match:- Gareth Rees
15 Iwan Evans
14 Tristan James (rep: James Beech 76)
13 Ryan Davies
12 Jonny Lewis
11 Harrison Button (rep: Amir Jiwa Walji 61)
10 Llew Smith
9 Ifan Beynon-Thomas (rep: Jay Weaver 73)
1 Sam O’Connor (rep: Tom Zoogah 65)
2 Rhys Cherry (rep: Garan Williams 69)
3 Richard Bassett (rep: Rhys Dabies 69)
4 Chris Long (rep: Jack Solomon 61)
5 Ashleigh Hyndman
6 Ryan Jenkins (rep: Garan Williams 39-44) (rep: Dylan Lawley 65)
7 Jacob Lewis
8 Nathan Hart ©
16 Garan Williams
17 Tom Zoogah
18 Rhys Davies
19 Jack Solomon
20 Dylan Lawley
21 Jay Weaver
22 James Beech
23 Amir Jiwa Walji
15 Harri Houston
14 Llien Morgan (rep: Kian Abraham 73)
13 Hanno Dirksen
12 J Rhys Williams
11 Gareth Rees (rep: Jordan Pritchard (39-44)
10 James Davies (rep: R Rhys Williams 17)
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Chris Morgans 58)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Jordan Pritchard 80+5)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Aneurin James 80+5)
3 Alun Dew (rep: Kaid O’Neill 44)
4 Matt Dodd
5 Jay Williams © (rep: Lewis Jones 41-44, 69)
6 Leon McNally
7 Iestyn Merriman
8 Charlie Davies
16 Aneurin James
17 Jordan Pritchard
18 Kaid O’Neill
19 Lewis Jones
20 Ben Asprea
21 Chris Morgans
22 R Rhys Williams
23 Kian Abraham