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A bird's eye view from the terrace: The Cat and the uni-cycle

Only one away trip can lead to an illuminating two word text two days later of the class of 'Flashback. Unicycle.'. Yes folks it was the annual Leinsterfans expedition to Llanelli and all the usual insanity that involves. To be honest a review of the teams when they were announced left one almost looking forward more to the Kilkenny Cat than the match itself. If there was an offer of a losing bonus before kick-off I think most of us would have considered taking it - but then again - you never know - after all, these games are not played on paper. We took our places on the north terrace before kick-off more in hope than expectation but ready as ever to give our all for our team. Llanelli fans on the other hand were almost as worried. Built up in their own press as deserving favourites for the game all week they feared this mantle would not sit comfortably on their team and dreaded the slagging from near rivals if their team failed to beat the 'Leinster Academy'.

Leinster started brightly with early pressure leading to a penalty in the third minute for a Scarlets player not rolling away from the tackle. Madigan converted to give us a 3-0 lead. Leinster continued to apply pressure with Nacewa showing an obvious tactic to kick through for Fionn Carr to chase on more than one occasion. An attempted chip over the head of 6'6'' George Earle however from Carr lead to a turnover and, several phases later, a penalty to Scarlets. They elected to kick to the corner and were rewarded with their opening score in the form of a try for centre Scott Williams. Another Williams crossed the line for the Scarlets a little over 10 minutes later after continued pressure - this time it was full-back Liam Williams who crossed despite the close attentions of Fionn Carr and Brendan Macken. The Leinster scrum was performing well and eventually earned Leinster a penalty in the 34th minute. That scrum would have been a penalty initially in any case had referee Neil Patterson noticed that Isaac Boss was tackled in the air prior to his knock on. The penalty led to a Leinster line-out just outside the Scarlets 22. After a good spell of pressure from Leinster, Scarlets were penalised for coming in from the side and Madigan scored the resulting penalty to close the gap to 8 at half-time.

Having nursed an arm injury through the latter stage of the first half, Isaac Boss was replaced by John Cooney at half time. The second half started with a step up in class from the team in Scarlet. An initial break from international winger George North through flailing Leinster tacklers led to play which saw the ball travel to the left touchline before returning to North on the right wing to score his first, and Llanelli's third try of the game. The bonus point was secured 5 minutes later after a turnover in the Scarlets 22 and more ineffective tackling from Leinster. The try was scored by wing Andy Fenby. Leinster's Devin Toner did score a try for the visitors in the 62nd minute but this was cancelled out two minutes later as substitute Kieran Murphy, introduced one minute beforehand, crossed the whitewash. The atmosphere on the terrace changed as the match went on. A team said by their own fans before to lack the killer instinct well and truly killed off this Leinster team - some fans got a little carried away by their celebrations as did one George North. He crossed for his second try in the 73rd minute. Andy Fenby also got his brace 3 minutes later with Madigan crossing for a consolation try as the last play.

As we comforted ourselves that nothing is won or lost in September, the reputation of the Llanelli fans was completely restored by their hospitality, commiserations and grace in the supporters barn afterwards - a fantastic and knowledgeable bunch. Both sets of supporters will no doubt be looking forward to our next visit. Scarlets may well have gained some confidence from this result but they will know deep down that this was not our first team and we start from nil all with all to play for in October. With weddings available to crash in the Stradey on both the Friday and Saturday nights of our next visit no doubt the after party will lead to more bizarre flashback texts...

by Yvonne Kelly, © 2012-09-05

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