Llanelli’s return to Parc y Scarlets was marked with a much needed 31-11 win over basement side Newport.
The game was the first in front of their own fans since the heavy record defeat to Carmarthen Quins on February 1st.
But a surprise win at the Gnoll on Saturday provided fresh hope for Llanelli and the return of key players Kyle Evans, Frazier Climo and Justin James to Friday’s starting line-up hinted at a second successive win.
And it was the hosts that got on the scoreboard first as Gareth Walters struck his third penalty of the season.
In truth the opening half an hour was tight affair with both sides defending well and Newport, in particular, doing well at set pieces.
But a chance fell to Llanelli early in the second quarter when a fantastic blocked kick by inside centre Craig Woodall caused confusion in the Black and Amber ranks. Jack Payne came agonisingly close to capitalising on the loose ball before Newport were able to clear the danger.
An inevitable Geraint O’Driscoll penalty, his 33rd of the season for Newport, was sandwiched by two further kicks by Walters to give Llanelli a 9-3 lead heading into last ten minutes of the half.
That was when top try scorer Kyle Evans bagged his seventh score of the season with a good piece of skill.
Seeing space open up on the wing for the first time in the game the 24-year-old fired up the afterburners and, breaking one tackle, got to his feet, sold a dummy and crashed down for the score.
Gareth Walters’ rare miss from the tee meant that Llanelli’s lead at the break was 11 points.
Frazier Climo also impressed in the first half making several bullish runs through the centre on his return to the side.
At the break the club paid tribute to Peter Rees who, at 90 years of age, is Wales’ oldest surviving international. The winger played for Llanelli and Wales in the 1940s and was responsible for bringing Ray Gravell and Carwyn James to club in his time as chairman and president.
With last week’s home defeat to a resurgent Bridgend Ravens, Newport were left five points adrift of Neath at the foot of the Principality Premiership table. So a second half onslaught was to be expected and the Black and Ambers came out all guns blazing after the restart.
A strong run from fly-half Angus O’Brien was supported by flanker Rhys Jenkins who went over for the score. Surprisingly, Geraint O’Driscoll missed the conversion.
But Llanelli did well to stay strong and stifle Newport’s attempts to get back in the game in the early stages of the third quarter.
Gareth Walters and Geraint O’Driscoll shared a penalty each with the sides just six points apart heading into the final quarter.
And Llanelli deservedly extended their lead after the hour mark with the introduction of Darran Harris and Ellis Phillips. Harris made a scintillating run deep into Newport’s territory before being stopped just short of the try line and good patience up front eventually saw Ellis Phillips go over for the score.
Gareth Walters converted the kick to grab a 24-11 lead.
And it was Kyle Evans’ eighth try of the season that sealed the win with another deadly run through Newport’s ranks which saw him cross the line with enough time to ground the ball underneath the posts.
Gareth Walter’s 73rd minute conversion completed the scoring leaving Llanelli with a 31-11 victory.
The win for Kevin George’s troops is their first at Parc y Scarlets in 2015 after three defeats on the bounce. And the strong performance in their last two fixtures will keep play-off hopes ticking over as the club prepares for the visit of Cross Keys at the end of the month.