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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 November, 2003, 17:39 GMT
Trip north boosts Scarlets
Paul Williams and Jason Richards
Paul Williams and Jason Richards travelled north
A trip north by Llanelli Scarlets has produced one of their largest crowds of the season.

More than 5,000 people braved the cold in north Wales to witness the Scarlets defeat of Scottish regional team Borders by 36-20.

As part of the restructuring of top flight rugby in Wales, the Scarlets agreed to play two "home" games in north Wales, the first time the club has left Llanelli for a home fixture.

The aim is to boost the popularity of the sport in the north and widen the club's fan base.

The Scarlets were desperate for a positive showing at the Racecourse in Wrexham and they got it early on from a dominant first-half display.

They withstood a spirited second-half comeback from Borders to mark their first visit as a regional side to north Wales.

Scots struggle

Four tries also represented the Scarlets' first bonus point of the season as they kept pace with leaders Ulster at the top of the Celtic League table.

It had looked easy for the home side during the opening 40 minutes as they coasted into a commanding interval lead.

But the Scots responded strongly with two quick tries after half-time to prompt some nervous moments in the Scarlets' camp.

Despite falling behind to a third minute penalty by full-back Gareth Morton, the Scarlets went on to dominate the half.

Hooker Aled Gravelle was first to cross in the fifth minute following strong work from impressive wing Richard Rees.

Then centre Tal Selley - Llanelli's leading try scorer this season - added to his tally by benefiting from a well-worked three-quarter move.

The Racecourse is usually home to Wrexham Football Club

Borders' misery continued when Morton was yellow-carded for a late tackle on Llanelli fly-half Gareth Bowen just before number eight Scott Quinnell drove through some weak defence from a five-yard scrum.

A Morton penalty gave Borders some encouragement before half-time, before the Wrexham crowd were stunned by two tries shortly after the re-start.

Former Scotland international prop George Graham crossed following a long period of pressure on the Llanelli line.

Then lively scrum-half Chris Cusiter went over.

Morton converted both tries to make it 25-20 as the visitors pressed.

But two penalties from Bowen and a try from wing Rees sealed the game in the final quarter to keep the Scarlets in second spot in the table.

Throughout the week the Scarlets have been on a charm offensive with the players visiting schools and colleges in 14 towns across the region to ensure Saturday's game was well attended.

Judith Griffith from Old Colwyn has set up the north Wales branch of Llanelli's supporters' club.

She said: "We've waited a long time for this as we are a bit starved of first-class rugby.

"The supporters' club is going really well as we have not advertised that much. As well as north Wales we have had enquiries from Liverpool, Cheshire and Manchester.

To make the fans and players feel at home the famous "sospans" that sit on the top of the goalposts at Stradey were transported to the Racecourse.

Scarlets could leave Stradey
26 Jun 03  |  South West Wales
Scarlets launch regional vision
07 Jul 03  |  Welsh
Scarlets fans relish trip north
31 Oct 03  |  South West Wales


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