Rugby Union: McIntosh free to face Llanelli following ban

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The Independent Online
European rugby takes a break this weekend but the after- effects will still be felt in Welsh rugby's Premier Division.

Dale McIntosh, the Pontypridd No 8 who was sent off fand banned for his contribution to the battle of Brive, has completed his 30-day suspension and returns for the Welsh League champions in their home game against Llanelli.

McIntosh, who went before the European board on Tuesday to answer a disrepute charge after his thumbs-up to the Brive crowd, admitted that he was relieved to escape with a sharp reprimand. "I really feared I was going to get another ban or at least a fine," he said. "Thankfully they accepted my explanation that the gesture wasn't meant to be inflammatory. I just tend to put my thumb up a lot, that's all."

McIntosh will be hoping his thumb is pointing the way towards the top of the table after tonight's live televised match.

Liam Botham, on loan from West Hartlepool, could be in contention for a place in the Cardiff team to play Bridgend after impressing in a friendly against Caerphilly on Tuesday. "I've got a month here and the main thing is to do enough to win a contract," he said.

Bridgend have taken the captaincy away from the Welsh international Gareth Thomas, who wants to leave the club, and given it to Matthew Lewis.

The other two Premier games are derby games, Ebbw Vale playing Newport, and Swansea taking on Neath.