A SERIOUS injury to Cardiff centre Darren Ryan marred this Llanelli victory over the Blue and Blacks at a bitterly cold Parc y Scarlets on Sunday afternoon, writes Tony Poole.
The former Aberavon and Bedwas centre was stretchered off in the 75th minute, and rushed to a local hospital.
When he departed Parc y Scarlets, the Cardiff motor mechanic complained of having no feeling in either his legs or arms.
Everyone connected with the game is now keeping their fingers crossed that Ryan makes a full recovery.
Llanelli returned to winning ways – following back-to-back defeats against Carmarthen Quins and Pontypridd – in style.
They took the honours on a 7-2 try-count with scrum-half Gareth Davies bagging a try hat-trick.
The victory also completed a third successive league double over the Blue & Blacks, who last beat Llanelli back in the 2009/10 campaign.
An outstanding display from Wales U20 flanker Daniel Thomas lay at the heart of the Llanelli victory with the damage done either side of half time when they scored three tries.
Early Cardiff pressure resulted in fly-half Joe Griffin knocking over a fifth-minute penalty only to have prop Ryan Harford sin-binned after a quarter of an hour.
Llanelli eventually made the extra man count in the 24th minute when Wales U20 flanker Daniel Thomas broke and scrum-half Gareth Davies claimed a try.
Full-back Dale Ford atoned for an earlier penalty miss in converting from the touchline – but the lead only lasted three minutes.
Ford had a relieving kick charged down, resulting in prop Campese Ma’afu touching down at the posts with fly-half Griffin adding the extras.
Scrum-half Sion Hopkins became the second Cardiff player to be yellow carded in the 35th minute, and again Llanelli profited.
From a scrum five, scrum-half Davies crossed for a second try which Ford once more improved on.
Though the 14 men responded via another Griffin penalty, they leaked a key try two minutes into stoppage time.
Llanelli kept the ball alive in contact, and fly-half Jonny Lewis was released for a try that Ford converted, making it 21-13 at the break.
Llanelli put the points to bed in devastating fashion, scoring two tries in as many minutes on the restart.
A Duane Eager break set up a deserved try for fellow flanker Thomas while hooker Kirby Myhill raced through a gap for the fifth Llanelli try.
It was the turn of Llanelli to go down to 14 men on the hour – replacement hooker Craig Hawkins seeing yellow – and Cardiff replacement prop Jake Cooper-Woolley soon touched down.
Fly-half Griffin converted, but Cardiff revival hopes were cut short by a hat-trick try from scrum-half Davies with replacement full-back Dion Jones adding the extras.
A serious injury to Cardiff centre Darren Ryan held up play for eight minutes and during stoppage time, Llanelli completed the scoring with a try from replacement full-back Dion Jones which he also converted.
Llanelli: D Ford (D Jones 42 mins); K Phillips, N Reynolds, S Hughes (C Keenan 16), K Evans; J Lewis, G Davies (J James 76); S Hopkins (R Thomas 59), K Myhill (C Hawkins 53), C Cross (A Hopkins 53), Adam Powell (capt), L Rawlins (N White 80+1), D Eager (K Myhill 62-72), S Leach (E Price 44), D Thomas
Scorers: Tries: G Davies (3), J Lewis, D Thomas, K Myhill, D Jones; Cons: D Ford (3), D Jones (2)
Cardiff: J Davies; A Field, D Ryan (W Jones 75), M Smith, S Powell (capt); J Griffin (J Thomas 75), S Hopkins (B Phillips 75); C Ma’afu (R James 77), A Fowler (E Lewis 48), R Harford (J Cooper-Woolley 48), M Screech (D Partridge 80+1), N White (A Lee 48), M Cook, R Tucker (J Cooper-Woolley 15-25), B Roach
Scorers: Tries: C Ma’afu, J Cooper-Woolley; Cons: J Griffin (2); Pens: J Griffin (2)
Referee: Gregory Morgan (Gower)
Principality star choice: Daniel Thomas (Llanelli).