EBBW VALE 17, LLANELLI 34
Stephen Jones guided Llanelli into a 16th final in 31 years - but only after
Ebbw Vale had given them a real run for their money in the Principality
Cup semi-final at the Millennium Stadium.
The Scarlets produced a late flourish to storm into the May 18 showpiece
occasion with Mark Jones wrapping it all up deep into injury time with try number four.
Ebbw Vale, who have now lost all six of their cup meetings with Llanelli,
struck the first blow after just six minutes through a Gareth Cull
Llanelli fly half Stephen Jones, who ended up with 14 points, levelled
matters and then converted a rare try from the lock Vernon Cooper that was created by good combined work from Leigh Davies and Luke Gross.
However, it was Vale who were proving the more slick of the sides and when
they moved the ball wide on 20 minutes, 18 stone lock Ockert Booyse found
himself in possession on the Llanelli 22. The big man got his legs pumping and
scattered the last line of defence to remind Llanelli they had a game on
Cull landed his second penalty just before the break but their joy was short
lived - six minutes into the second half Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins swopped one international scrum half for another - and Ireland's Guy Easterby immediately made it a master stroke.
His first bit of the action was to be fed the ball from a scrum by No 8
Dave Hodges and he shredded the Vale defence for a try after only 48 seconds.
Jones converted but Cull kept the Steelmen going with his third and fourth penalty goals - the second a real monster effort - to send the contest into the last quarter with the sides deadlocked at 17-17.
An attempt to run the ball out of deep defence came to grief for Vale when the unfortunate Booyse dropped the ball and
predatory flanker Ian Boobyer pounced on the loose ball to score for Jones to
Jones added a penalty four minutes later and then converted Jones' late try to seal Llanelli's place in what they hope will be the first of two finals at the Millennium Stadium next month.
Ebbw Vale: Try: Ockert Booyse; Pens: Gareth Cull 4.
Llanelli: Tries: Vernon Cooper, Guy Easterby, Ian Boobyer, M Jones; Cons: Stephen Jones
4; Pens: Stephen Jones 2
All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.