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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 12:42 GMT
Day the pubs ran dry
Llanelli skipper Delme Thomas is carried shoulder-high from Stradey Park after the famous 1972 win over the All Blacks
Delme Thomas celebrates defeating New Zealand

Many rugby clubs have notable scalps collected from touring international sides, but 30 years ago Llanelli claimed perhaps the greatest by beating New Zealand.

Carwyn James had coached the 1971 Lions to a famous series win in New Zealand.

But nobody expected his Llanelli side to repeat that success the following year when the All Blacks toured Britain.

Go to the teams

Yet on 31 October 1972, a Scarlets side emerged 9-3 winners of what was a bruising, brutal encounter at a packed Stradey Park.

Fly-half legend Phil Bennett provided much of the inspiration and the conversion of Roy Bergiers' solitary try, while Andy Hill struck a long-range penalty.

But it was skipper Delme Thomas who held the Llanelli pack firm in the face of an All Black pack shaped in the best Kiwi traditions.

Current Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins by his own admission was a slip of a boy when he packed down at flanker that day, for a match he will always remember.

"It was the most physical game I've ever played in - we'd never experienced anything like it as younger players," Jenkins said.


The scenes were amazing
Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins

"The All Blacks have always been formidable and they were quite formidable that day!

"The result was ours but it was an experience and a half to have played in such a brutal game and come away with a result.

"That day I remember the whole town closed for a half-day. The scenes were amazing - there was 20,000 people at Stradey and the expectations were high."

When the match got underway it took less than five minutes for Llanelli to stun their visitors.

Bennett had an early chance to claim the lead only to see his penalty kick bounce off the cross-bar.

As All Black scrum-half Lindsey Colling gathered the rebound it seemed that the scoring chance had gone.

But as Colling shaped to clear safely towards touch, Bergiers raced in from the Llanelli midfield to charge down the kick and then dived on the loose ball for a try.

Bennett converted to give Llanelli a shock 6-0 lead, but when Joe Karam struck a penalty to give New Zealand their first points it seemed only a matter of time before more followed.

However, the Scarlets dug in and held out heroically - with the scars to prove it - before Hill struck a huge penalty to keep New Zealand at arm's length.

The Llanelli players were carried off the pitch, eventually, by a sea of rejoicing fans.

The celebrations continued in the town's drinking dens late into the evening and it truly was the day when the pubs ran dry.

Unfortunately for the club game such matches now appear to be a thing of the past, as touring sides arrive with their sights fixed firmly on Test matches and little else.

"It was a great time to remember, it was a great time to be around and a great time to play rugby," Jenkins added.

"Those days are gone.

"The tours in those days were two or three months long, what you get now is two or three week tours.

"That's all they want to play and quite rightly so - they want to minimise the games for professional international players and that's the way it's going to be."


Llanelli 1972: Roger Davies; John J. Williams, Roy Bergiers, Ray Gravell, Andy Hill; Phil Bennett, Chico Hopkins; Tony Crocker, Roy Thomas, Barry Llewellyn, Delme Thomas (capt), Derek Quinnell, Tom David, Hefin Jenkins, Gareth Jenkins.
Replacements: Selwyn Williams, Alan James, Chris Charles, Brian Llewellyn, Gwyn Ashby, Meirion Davies.

New Zealand 1972: Joe Karam; Bryan Williams, Bruce Robertson, Mark Sayers, Duncan Hales; Bob Burgess, Lindsey Colling; Keith Murdoch, Ron Urlich, Graham Whiting, Andy Haden, Pole Whiting, Alistair Scown, Alan Sutherland, Ian Kirkpatrick (capt).
Replacement: Grant Batty.


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11 Sep 02 | Celtic
01 Jul 00 | Wales
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