Match report: Llanelli 16 Carmarthen Quins 15
Llanelli 16 Carmarthen Quins 15
THERE are times as a coaching team when you have to take the win and move on.
And you sense that will be the mood among the Llanelli camp after they edged out Carmarthen Quins in a nervy British & Irish Cup qualifier at Parc y Scarlets yesterday.
Last season's quarter-finalists were second best for long periods of an error-strewn contest, but did enough to seal their progress thanks to a stubborn defensive display and a length-of-the-field try in first-half stoppage time.
"The way we played without the ball was the difference, our defence was excellent," admitted Llanelli head of rugby Anthony Buchanan.
"It was always going to be a close game. Credit to Quins, they came down and looked to attack us.
"There is a lot to work on, but it's the start of the season, we have some new faces in there and some young boys like Josh Adams showed up well.
"We will look forward to Llandovery on Saturday now."
If they are to overcome the Drovers and fly the flag for the Scarlets region in the pool stages of the cross-border competition, Llanelli will need to be far more accurate and cohesive than they were yesterday.
The back three of Adams, Kyle Evans and Wales Under-20s full-back Dion Jones were constant threats, but too often passing inside them was laboured or went awry which meant they had limited opportunities to cut loose.
As for the Quins, they will reflect on a game where they enjoyed the better of possession and territory, but ultimately didn't possess the killer touch.
Skipper Rhys Williams, who has returned to the Premiership after a spell in France, carried strongly over the gainline, while wing Pan Rushesha enjoyed a lively competitive debut.
Up front, prop Gareth Thomas, No. 8 Luke Joseph and lock Haydn Pugh were willing carriers, while flanker Sion Bennett — who featured for Wales in the Junior World Championship this summer — made his mark as a second-half replacement.
"I suppose it came down to Llanelli taking the opportunity they created and us not being able to make the most of ours," said Quins team manager Steffan Thomas.
"There wasn't much in it throughout, we had most of the ball, but just couldn't get across the whitewash.
"It is disappointing that we won't be in the B&I Cup this year, but we will take a lot of encouragement out of this match."
It was Llanelli who led 16-9 at half-time, although the Quins will have felt hard done by having had the better of a first half that had plenty of endeavour, but was coated with rust — understandable on the opening weekend of the campaign.
With both sides struggling to hold onto the ball, it meant the match became a kicking battle between fly-halves Josh Lewis and Craig Evans.
The Quins almost claimed the game's opening try midway through the half, but centre Dylan Morgan was pushed out in the corner by last-ditch home defence.
Three penalties apiece from Lewis, a summer signing from Ebbw Vale, and Evans — who has returned to Carmarthen from Aberavon — saw the sides locked 9-9 in first-half injury time.
Then, in what proved a crucial moment in the match, Llanelli launched a sparkling attack from deep through full-back Jones and it led to Adams cutting inside to score.
The Quins reduced the arrears with a fourth Evans penalty shortly after the restart before Llanelli were denied a second try with referee Nigel Owens adjudging there had been obstruction in the build-up to Kyle Evans winning the race to a kick through from Jones.
Owens yellow carded Llanelli flanker Dan Thomas for an infringement at a ruck as Quins pressed late on, but despite a further penalty from the boot of replacement full-back Aled Thomas, they were unable to do enough to claim the spoils.
Llanelli : Try: J. Adams. Con: J. Lewis. Pens: Lewis (3).
Carmarthen Quins : Pens: C. Evans (4), A. Thomas.
Referee : Nigel Owens.