LLANELLI will this week be picking up the pieces after suffering a second heaviest defeat in their proud Swalec Cup history.
A first away defeat to five-time winners Pontypridd in the cup proved almost as embarrassing as the 65-16 exit (9-1 on tries) against Cardiff at Stradey Park back in 2001.
On that occasion Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins described it as total collapse against the rampant Blue and Blacks - and the same was almost true 13 years on at Sardis Road.
However, on this occasion the 9-2 loss on try-count to Ponty could have been much worse if a young Llanelli side hadn’t dug deep late on.
Llanelli head coach Kevin George made that point afterwards with a young side taking a lot out of the Ponty experience.
“If the boys hadn’t shown great commitment late on, then we would have been staring at a record cup defeat,” he explained.
“It’s not every week they will play in front of a passionate crowd like that - and to a man they we grateful to have been involved in the tie.
“The scoring reflected a spanking alright, but we must now look ahead and bid for a place in the Premiership play-offs.’’
Llanelli had previously carded six away wins over Ponty in the cup, including a Penygraig encounter during the first year of the revamped cup in 1972.
The last-16 tie went to Penygraig because the old Ponty base at Ynysangharad Park was the scene of road improvements.
Llanelli triumphed 18-4 on the way to losing 15-9 against Neath during the inaugural National Stadium final – but will now have to wait to improve on a record that has seen them lift the cup 14 times.
Ponty, who reduced the deficit with Llanelli on the cup head-to-head to 10-6, built momentum towards a 16th semi-final appearance after suffering an early setback.
Though Llanelli flanker Daniel Thomas raced over for a second-minute try, the lead only lasted seven minutes.
Full-back Geraint Walsh, who seems destined to play at a higher level, weaved his way over for a fine equalising try.
Ponty then refused three safe goal points to work a penalty into the corner, and No 8 Dan Godfrey claimed a try from a driving lineout.
And it became 17-5 in the 17th minute when centre Garyn Smith evaded tackles to collect their third try with fly-half Dai Flanagan converting.
However, the only other first-half score came via a 27th-minute penalty from Llanelli centre Gareth Walters.
The Sospans trailed 17-8 at the break, but were back it once Justin James crossed for a 42nd-minute try that Walters improved on.
But from that point on, it was all Ponty with three tries in 10 minutes taking them into an unassailable 36-15 lead.
Wing Lewis Williams exploited weak tackling to side-step over for a try with others soon following from flanker Rhys Shellard and lock Sieniawski
Flanagan added two more conversions, and on the hour it was the turn of wing Matthew Nuthall to dart over for a corner try.
However, Ponty weren’t finished and signed off with second tries of the tie from lock Sieniawski and centre Smith with replacement Simon Humberstone improving on both.
Pontypridd: G Walsh; Lewis Williams, G Smith, D Lockyer (capt), M Nuthall; D Flanagan (S Humberstone 52), Lloyd Williams (J Raikes 65); J Howe, A Morris (T Hetherington 61), K Jenkins (C Phillips 57), J Sieniawski, C Locke (J Cashin 65), W O’Connor (L Crocker 65), D Godfrey, R Shellard
Tries: G Smith (2), J Sieniawski (2), G Walsh, D Godfrey, L Williams, R Shellard, M Nuthall
Cons: D Flanagan (3), S Humberstone (2)
Llanelli: D Lewis; J Ball (A Roberts 74), G Walters, Jonny Lewis, J Griffiths; J James (J Evans 74), A Davies (T James 68); S Hopkins (R Thomas h-t), D Harris (T Myhill 64), B Leung (G Havard 49), N White, L Rawlins, D Eager (capt – O Morgan 49), E Price (S Leach 71), D Thomas
Tries: D Thomas, J James
Con: G Walters
Pen: G Walters.
Score sequence: 0-5, 5-5, 10-5, 15-5, 17-5, 17-8 (half-time); 17-13, 17-15, 22-15, 24-15, 29-15, 31-15, 36-15, 41-15, 46-15, 48-15, 53-15, 55-15.
Referee: Gwyn Morris (Cardiff).
Courtesy of Mr Tony Poole