Leinster A 19
By Tony Poole
At Parc y Scarlets
LLANELLI now face an anxious wait to see if they can follow Cross Keys, and qualify for the knockout stages of the British & Irish Cup next month.
A first competition defeat against a strong Leinster A team has left them needing a win over Bedford at Goldington Road on Saturday to win both Pool Four and guarantee cup progress.
However, they will take a one-point advantage over closest challengers London Welsh, who face a equally demanding task away to Leinster A.
The Parc y Scarlets side were architects of their own downfall, with the normally reliable Jordan Williams failing to hit the target with three penalties.
But as club head of rugby Anthony Buchanan pointed out, the real damage was done at scrum-time.
“If we had put kicks over it could have been different, but you couldn’t take anything away from our forwards who were magnificent,” said Llanelli head of rugby Anthony Buchanan.
“That said Leinster possessed an excellent scrum, and in the end that’s where the game was won and lost.’’
The accurate boot of Leinster fly-half Noel Reid – who landed all five goal kicks – resulted in them continuing to head Pool Three with an unblemished record.
The early pressure in wet conditions came from Llanelli with two penalty attempts from full-back Jordan Williams clipping the woodwork.
But they were rewarded for their persistence in the 15th minute – a defensive error led to No 8 Matt Gilbert releasing centre Jonny Lewis for a try that full-back Williams goaled.
Leinster opened their account three minutes later with a Noel Reid penalty, and the driving play of No 8 Leo Auva’a almost secured them a try.
They made further inroads in the 27th minute, fly-half Reid knocking over a simple penalty, while soon after Llanelli full-back Williams fluffed a third penalty.
But a sweeping Llanelli raid, instigated by a superb defensive catch from wing Andrew Fenby, was halted at the cost of a yellow card for Leinster scrum-half John Cooney.
Llanelli took a 7-6 advantage into the second half, and a minute in they increased the lead via a Williams penalty.
However, Leinster pressure in the 44th minute led to yellow card for Llanelli wing Iolo Evans with fly-half Reid slotting over the subsequent penalty.
And the Irish province hit the front for a first time in the 50th minute when their best forward, No 8 Auva’a, was awarded a try from a tap and go.
Fly-half Reid converted, making it 16-10, and entering the final quarter, Reid and Williams traded penalties.
During the closing stages, Llanelli – well served by inspirational hooker Craig Hawkins – refused to take a backward step.
They made gallant attempts to go for the win only to come up just short, and had to be satisfied with what might prove an important losing bonus point.
Llanelli: Try – J Lewis; Con: J Williams; Pens: J. Williams (2)
Team: J. Williams; I. Evans, J. Lewis, N. Reynolds, A. Fenby (B. Davies 77); O. Williams (G. Maule h/t), J. James; S. Hopkins (A. Hopkins 59), C. Hawkins, R. Jones, L. Reed, Adam Powell (capt), D. Eager (Allan Powell 77), M. Gilbert, D. Thomas
Leinster A: Try – L Auva’a; Con: N. Reid; Pens: N. Reid (4)
Team: D. Kearny; D. Hudson, B. Macken, C. O’Shea (A. Boyle 45), A. Conway; N. Reid, J. Cooney; J. McGrath, A. Dunden (T. Sexton 71), J. Hagan (J. O’Connell 71), M. Flanagan, B. Marshall, C. Ruddock (capt, C. Gilsenan 9), L. Auva’a, J. Murphy (J. Coughlan 66)
Yellow cards: J. Cooney (Leinster) 38, I. Evans (Llanelli) 44
Referee: Cammy Rudkin (SRU)