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Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 16:39 GMT
Jones pulls plug on Bath
Bath 10-27 Llanelli
Stephen Jones kicked Bath's European hopes into touch at a rain-soaked Recreation Ground on Sunday as Llanelli sailed into the Heineken Cup semi-finals.
The Scarlets' Welsh international fly-half repeated his heroics of a fortnight ago, when he tamed defending champions Leicester Tigers in the pool stage and booked Llanelli's quarter-final place.
This time it was the 1998 European champions Bath who were his victims, as he followed an eight-from-eight penalty exhibition against Leicester with an identical return to secure last-four status.
He also added an injury-time drop goal for good measure, giving him all 27 points as just reward for a masterful display.
Jones' deadly accuracy punished ruthlessly Bath's indiscipline. They never got to grips with either the stamina-sapping conditions or Llanelli's forwards.
The fly-half put Llanelli 18 points ahead before Bath flanker Gavin Thomas, a Welsh international himself, scored the game's solitary try on 67 minutes, but it proved scant consolation.
Any prospect of a late Bath revival collapsed courtesy of Jones' eighth successful strike, awarded although television replays suggested it had not gone over after bouncing off the post and then crossbar.
Bath skipper Mike Catt cost his side those points, being penalised for dissent, and that summed up the home team's frustrating afternoon as Llanelli claimed a semi-final spot for the second time in three seasons.
After beating both Leicester and Bath, the Scarlets need not have any fears of what awaits them in the semi-final draw, which will take place on 5 February in Cardiff.
Bath though, struggling badly in the Zurich Premiership and eliminated from English rugby's domestic Powergen Cup, could now see their season drift into oblivion.
The quarter-final tie was given an early-morning green light by Irish referee Allan Lewis after the match was postponed from Saturday because of a water-logged pitch.
Jones' prolific right boot dominated the opening quarter, the Wales fly-half kicking three quickfire penalties, his first after touch judge David McHugh spotted Thomas punching a Scarlets player.
Bath desperately needed a territorial foothold, yet Llanelli were in no mood to relinquish control as Jones landed his fourth successful penalty on 21 minutes.
Another Jones penalty before the break was cancelled out by a kick from Bath centre Olly Barkley, yet a 15-3 interval advantage confirmed Llanelli's dominance in all departments.
Bath coach Jon Callard predictably took action for the second half, sending on internationals Mark Regan and Dan Lyle as substitutes.
Yet it made little difference as Jones' sixth penalty restored Llanelli's 15-point advantage on 44 minutes.
With their forwards continuing to contain the Bath pack, Callard made another double substitution, calling for scrum-half Gareth Cooper and wing Tom Voyce.
Another Jones strike made it 21-3, forcing Bath to throw everything into attack.
Yet Llanelli's magnificent commitment and determination was summed up when scrum-half Guy Easterby pulled off a stunning try-saving tackle on Barkley.
Bath pressed and pressed in search of a score and it finally arrived 13 minutes from time when Thomas collected Catt's pass for a try which Barkley converted.
It was too little too late, though, Llanelli closing out the game to a raucous chorus of Welsh anthems from their elated fans.
As disgruntled Bath supporters drifted quietly away, the Llanelli players returned to salute their travelling hoardes, returning from the dressing room complete with a Welsh flag.
It was the Scarlets' day, leaving Bath with red faces and coach Callard facing some serious questions about his future.
Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, O Barkley, M Tindall, K Maggs; M Catt (capt), A Williams; D Barnes, A Long, S Emms, S Borthwick, D Grewcock, G Thomas, M Gabey, N Thomas.
Llanelli: G Evans; W Proctor, N Boobyer, L Davies, S Finau; S Jones, G Easterby; M Madden, R McBryde, J Davies, V Cooper, C Wyatt, D Hodges, S Easterby, S Quinnell (capt).
Referee: Allan Lewis (IRU).
BBC Wales ScrumV
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