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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
Llanelli clinch league title
Llanelli centre Matt Cardey scores his side's second try
Matt Cardey dives over for Llanelli's second try
Cardiff 25-28 Llanelli

Llanelli clinched the Welsh-Scottish League title after staging a remarkable second-half fightback to thwart Cardiff at the Arms Park on Friday night.

The Scarlets looked down and out early in the second half, trailing 25-8, but they turned things around in astounding fashion.

In the end, it was left to Llanelli's iceman - Welsh international fly-half Stephen Jones - to give them the championship.

  Scoring details
Cardiff (13) 25:
Tries: Harris, J Robinson, Rogers
Cons: Harris (2)
Pens: Harris(2)
Llanelli (8) 28:
Tries: M Jones (2), M Cardey
Cons: S Jones (2)
Pens: S Jones (3)
Att: 9,000

Jones booted a 48-metre penalty in injury time, a delicious irony given that Llanelli were on the receiving end of a similar fate against Heineken Cup semi-final opponents Leicester just a fortnight ago.

Llanelli's nail-biting triumph completes the first half of a potential domestic double.

They meet Pontypridd in the Principality Cup Final Saturday week, and a first double since 1993 awaits them.

If Cardiff had held on, they would have handed a golden chance of championship glory to their arch-rivals Newport.

A Cardiff win would have left Newport needing to beat Bridgend on Saturday to lift the title on try-count.

But Jones' stunning kick rendered that possible scenario irrelevant as Llanelli's travelling army of supporters began wild celebrations.

Stephen Jones kicks the penalty that wins Llanelli the league
Jones puts everything behind his last-minute kick

The finale was a far cry from the early stages when Cardiff dominated.

The home side were led out by hooker Jonathan Humphreys on his 236th and final appearance before joining Bath on a two-year contract.

And Humphreys looked as though he would have a night to savour when Cardiff roared into a 10-0 lead after just three minutes.

Fly-half Iestyn Harris kicked a penalty and then capitalised on a scintillating break from half-back partner Ryan Powell to score a try that he also converted.

But Cardiff then had their skipper John Tait sin-binned for killing the ball, and while he was off the field Jones kicked a penalty and right wing Mark Jones crossed for a try in the corner.

Another Harris penalty meant that Cardiff led 13-8 at half-time and they took the game by the scruff of the neck after Scarlets prop Martyn Madden was yellow-carded.

Chris Wyatt gets to grips with Craig Morgan
Chris Wyatt gets to grips with Cardiff's Craig Morgan

Centre Jamie Robinson collected Cardiff's second try, Harris converting, and before Llanelli could recover from that setback, Cardiff's former Newport prop Peter Rogers finished off another flowing move wide out.

Cardiff had a 17-point lead, yet it all started to go wrong once Rogers was sin-binned, again for killing the ball.

Jones kicked the resulting penalty and centre Matt Cardey gave Llanelli renewed hope by scoring their second try 17 minutes from time.

With just five minutes remaining, Llanelli drew level as Mark Jones claimed his second touchdown, which his namesake marksman Stephen predictably converted.

At 25-25, the tension in the closing stages was almost unbearable: After Harris was short with a 52-metre penalty shot, up stepped Jones in a classic case of cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Cardiff: N Robinson; R Williams, J Robinson, M Allen, C Morgan; I Harris, R Powell; P Rogers, J Humphreys, K Fourie, J Tait (capt), A Jones, R Appleyard, M Williams, E Lewis.
Reps: R Sowden-Taylor, P Muller, N Jenkins, A Booth, G Powell, A Lewis, L Tait.

Llanelli: B Davies; M Jones, M Cardey, L Davies, S Finau; S Jones, D Peel; M Madden, R McBryde, J Davies, L Gross, C Wyatt, D Jones, S Easterby, S Quinnell (capt).
Reps: P Booth, M Thomas, V Cooper, D Hodges, R Moon, G Bowen, N Boobyer.

Referee: Nigel H Williams (Bryncoch).

BBC Wales Sport's Huw Llywelyn Davies reports
"A marvellous occasion and a superb climax to the league."
Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins
"It was a game full of emotion"
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