HOSTS GIVE LLANELLI A TOUGH EXAM
LLANELLI head coach Paul Fisher was a very relieved man to see his side go into the hat for the second round of the WRU National Cup after a thorough examination at Gelligaled Park.
He was also full of praise for the home side, who are riding high in their first season in the Championship, as they threw the kitchen sink at their illustrious visitors and were full value for their 10-5 interval lead.
“We didn’t really know what to expect because we hadn’t seen any footage of them playing, but we knew of their reputation after they moved through the leagues,” said Fisher.
“We expected this to be the focal point of their season and they didn’t disappoint.
“The width that they held and the tempo they brought to their game probably challenged us more than in some Premiership matches. All credit to them for that.
“I don’t think we had a scrum for 30 minutes and the first passage of play seemed to go on for 10 minutes.
“They were very impressive in their phase play and it was easy to see why they have been so successful in recent seasons.”
Corey Shephard gave Ystrad a deserved lead when he kicked a penalty from just outside the 22 to open the scoring after only five minutes, but the visitors hit back with the first of their five tries from a driving line-out.
It was the first decent field position they had enjoyed and after Ashleigh Hyndman had taken the ball in the middle of the line, hooker Taylor Davies was able to ride on the back of the maul and claim the score.
Llanelli thought they had grabbed a second eight minutes later when outside-half Ashley Sutton raced through to dive over the line at the posts, but referee Rhys Jones, who played a major part in an excellent match, spotted some interference by the visiting centres and awarded a penalty to Ystrad.
The home side struck again seven minutes before half-time when Sutton lost the ball in a tackle after gathering an up and under on his 10-me- tre line.
Having been crunched by Sion Summers, he then saw Shephard hack the loose ball into the 22 and Kurtis Williams turn on the afterburners and win the race to the line for a try.
That got the near 500-strong crowd, which contained Ystrad products and former Welsh internationals Gary Jones and Mike Griffiths, roaring their approval.
Shephard added the extras and that gave the Championship side a 10-5 interval lead.
Sutton and Shephard exchanged penalties at the start of the second half before Llanelli finally got some rhythm into their play and worked full-back Kallum Evans clear for a 20-metre run to the line.
That levelled the scores at 13-13 and midway through the second half Llanelli hit the front for the first time.
Wing Tommy Rogers rounded off some more back line pressure and Sutton’s conversion took his side seven points clear.
Scrum-half Gareth George then scampered over before Rogers added a second after he picked up a loose ball 35 metres out and raced to the line.
If that left the scoreline looking a bit harsh on Ystrad, they ensured the gap was closer at the end when they created an outstanding score for replacement wing Jay Harris. Having worked their way deep into the Llanelli 22 on the right flank, they switched the ball swiftly to the left to give Harris a free run to the corner.
Tommy Rogers crossed twice for Llanelli.