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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 21:09 GMT
Scarlets fall to French flair
Perpignan 42-10 Llanelli
Llanelli were outclassed and outmuscled by a classy Perpignan side in their Heineken Cup Pool One encounter at Stade Aime Giral.
The visitors opened and closed the scoring, but in-between, they had no answer to Perpignan's high-tempo and sensational attacking play.
Scott Quinnell's last minute try prevented his side going down to their heaviest European Cup defeat, but that was scant consolation for a battered and bruised Llanelli side at the end of a demoralising match.
The Scarlets must now beat Leicester at home next week to have any hope of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
With just over a minute on the clock, fly-half Stephen Jones gave Llanelli an encouraging start with a confidently struck drop goal.
But that was the only time the visitors troubled the scorers in the first half.
Perpignan began to dominate possession and put the Scarlets firmly on the back foot.
The first try arrived after 10 minutes when winger Robbie MacDonald crossed in the left corner.
He benefited from a three-man overlap after previous surging runs from his team-mates had tied up the Llanelli defence on the opposite side of the pitch.
Former France international Thierry Lacroix added the conversion, and a penalty some three minutes later opened a 10-3 lead.
Perpignan kept Llanelli under pressure with some exhilarating counter-attacks as the Scarlets struggled with their tactical kicking.
The French forwards also began to dominate their opponents, and it came as no surprise when the home side added the second try on 25 minutes.
Scrum half Ludovic Loustau was put in the clear 30 meters out after his forwards disrupted a Llanelli scrum.
Perpignan winger Farid Sid was denied a try by a superb tackle by Garan Evans 10 minutes later.
But the flying Frenchman was able to celebrate his first score of the match five minutes later.
With half-time fast approaching, the Perpignan forwards drove towards the Llanelli try-line, and when the ball was spun out of the ruck to Sid, he showed his class by weaving through a static Llanelli defence.
Lacroix converted to give his side a comfortable 22-3 lead at the interval.
Llanelli's hopes of a fight-back were boosted as their inspirational captain Scott Quinnell came out for the second-half.
But he could do nothing but watch as Lacroix extended Perpignan's lead with a penalty.
Llanelli finally managed to get some decent possession and field position, but still found it impossible to breach the home defence.
Their chances of doing so certainly increased when home captain Bernard Giutta was sin-binned for preventing Llanelli from benefiting from a quickly taken penalty.
But despite their numerical disadvantage, Perpignan stretched their lead to 25 points thanks to another Lacroix penalty with 20 minutes left to play.
Llanelli's Vernon Cooper was the next to see the yellow card - only a minute after coming on the field as a replacement.
Perpignan replacement fly-half Benoit Bellot scored the fourth try of the night from the resulting penalty, and there was no way back for the Scarlets.
The home side were not finished though as replacement forward Olivier Olibeau crossed for their final try on 76 minutes. Bellot added the conversion.
In the final minute, Llanelli gave something for their fans to celebrate when Quinnell benefited from a quickly taken lineout to stroll under the Perpignan posts to bring a hugely demanding match to an end.
Perpignan: F Cermeno; F Sid, J Orengo, N Couttet, R MacDonald; T Lacroix, L Loustau; P Meya, M Konieckiewicz, J Garcia, R Alvarez Kairelis, J Daniell, G Le Corvec, B Goutta (capt), P Murphy.
Llanelli: B Davies; G Evans, N Boobyer, L Davies, M Jones; S Jones, D Peel; M Madden, R McBryde, J Davies, L Gross, C Wyatt, S Easterby, D Hodges, D Jones.
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