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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 19:53 GMT 20:53 UK
Scarlets 18-6 Munster
Scarlets number eight Alix Popham celebrates his opening try
Scarlets: (5) 18:
Tries: Popham 2.
Cons: C Evans.
Pens: C Evans 2.
Munster: (3) 6:
Pens: Manning 2.
Att: 5,754
Alix Popham powered Llanelli Scarlets to Celtic League victory over visitors Munster with a brace of tries.

The number eight claimed a push-over try and then blasted over from close range, with rookie fly-half Craig Evans adding eight points from the boot.

Facing a Heineken Cup final on 20 May Munster fielded a second-string side, with the Scarlets also under-strength.

Jeremy Manning failed to sparkle at fly-half for the Irish, although he did kick all six of Munster's points.

Chances were few and far between in a scrappy match, with the first half in particular a largely untidy scuffle in Stradey Park's no-man's land.

Manning opened the scoring after 16 minutes for Munster with a penalty, having missed an earlier opportunity.

The Scarlets had at least enjoyed dominance up front, although it took until just before half-time to make their power count.

A series of five-metre scrums resulted - eventually after some puzzling interpretations from referee Malcolm Changleng in his usual fussy mode - in a push-over try for number eight Popham.

Manning put Munster back into the lead soon after the restart with his second penalty, but Craig Evans restored the Scarlets' lead with his own three-pointer.

The Carmarthen youngster was making his first start for the Scarlets and that penalty was his first three points for the Welsh region.

With the sides still neck-and-neck it was always likely that one moment of individual brilliance would decide the match.

Unfortunately for Munster that was provided by Aled Gravelle, as the Scarlets replacement hooker broke upfield showing the skills of the back-row he started his rugby career as.

The Irish defence hauled Gravelle down a metre short of the try line, but Popham was on hand to gather and plunge over.

Scarlets fly-half Evans added the conversion and then topped a decent night's work with a huge penalty kick from a couple of metres within his own half.

Munster were unable to take advantage and never seriously threatened, even when Scarlets lock Vernon Cooper was sin-binned for trampling late in the game.

Scarlets: Lee Byrne; Garan Evans, Regan King, Gavin Evans, Tal Selley; Craig Evans, Clive Stuart-Smith; Iestyn Thomas, Matthew Rees, Craig Dunlea, Vernon Cooper (capt), Hottie Louw, Inoke Afeaki, Dafydd Jones, Alix Popham.
Replacements: John Davies for Dunlea (67), Aled Gravelle for Rees (61), Adam Jones for Louw (61), Jonathan Mills for Afeaki (52), Dwayne Peel for Stuart-Smith (40). Not Used: Phil John, Paul Mackey.

Munster: D Hurley; A Horgan, T O'Leary, M Lawlor, I Dowling; J Manning, P Stringer; E McGovern, P Humphreys, F Pucciariello; T Hogan, M O'Driscoll; D Leamy, S Keogh, J O'Sullivan.
Replacements: D Varley for Humphreys (74), T Ryan for Pucciariello (47), D O'Callaghan for O'Driscoll (65), A Quinlan for Leamy (40), P Burke for Manning (69), M Prendergast for Stringer (40), M Mullins for O'Leary (40).

Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland).



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