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Scarlets Take Title With Thrilling Win In Cardiff

Scarlets Take Title With Thrilling Win In Cardiff

Stephen Jones kept his cool to slot a 48-metre penalty in the last minute of the match to complete an heroic comeback for Llanelli which earned them the Welsh/Scottish League crown.
When Cardiff scored two tries, through Jamie Robinson and Peter Rogers, to storm into a 25-8 lead at the start of the second half, it looked as though the Scarlets were heading for a second major disappointment of the season.
But, just as everyone was writing them off, Scott Quinnell’s men dug deep to claw their way back into a game that seemed destined to send Cardiff back to the top of the table.
A series of astute substitutions by Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins saw his pack grow in stature as the game moved into the final quarter.
Tries by Matt Cardey and a second from Mark Jones, both of which were converted by Stephen Jones, eventually levelled the scores at 25-25.
There were six minutes left for either side to keep their title hopes alive and Iestyn Harris, who scored the first of Cardiff’s three tries in the first half, lined up a penalty shot from three metres inside his own half.
That fell just under the bar, and was gratefully cleared by Chris Wyatt, and Llanelli managed to work their way into the Cardiff half.
Referee Nigel Williams then singled out replacement hooker Andrew Lewis for a high tackle, leaving Jones with a last-gasp penalty from 48 metres to win the title.
It brought back memories of the long-range effort that Leicester fullback Tim Stimpson landed to give the Tigers victory at the death in their epic Heineken Cup semi-final against Llanelli at Nottingham last month.
Jones never looked as though he was going to miss the kick and, as it went over, the 2,000 or more Scarlets supporters in the 10,000 crowd roared with delight.
Had the game ended with either a Cardiff victory or as a draw, it would have allowed Simon Raiwalui’s Newport side to have potentially leap-frogged them both by beating Bridgend on Saturday.
But Jones’s ice-cool kick crowned a magnificent come-back from Llanelli and set up a potential League and Cup double for the Scarlets.
They will be back in Cardiff next weekend to face Pontypridd in the Principality Cup Final and, after this magnificent victory, they must start as favourites.
Cardiff: Tries: Iestyn Harris, Jamie Robinson, Peter Rogers; Cons: Iestyn Harris 2; Pens: Iestyn Harris 2.
Llanelli: Tries: Mark Jones 2, Matt Cardey; Cons: Stephen Jones 2; Pens:
Stephen Jones 3.
Cardiff: N Robinson; R Williams, J Robinson (P Muller), M Allen, C Morgan; I Harris, R Powell; P Rogers, J Humphreys (A Lewis), K Fourie (G Powell), J Tait (captain, L Tait), A Jones, R Appleyard (R Sowden-Taylor), M Williams, E Lewis.
Llanelli: B Davies; M Jones, M Cardey, L Davies, S Finau; S Jones, D Peel; M Madden, R McBryde, J Davies (P Booth), L Gross (V Cooper), C Wyatt, D Jones, S Easterby, S Quinnell (captain, D Hodges).
Referee: Nigel H Williams (Bryncoch).

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