Down the street from the Car- diff Arms Park at The Old Arcade, they still joke about the danger of being struck by lightning because there is now a Welsh Rugby League jersey on the pub wall among the scores of Union ones.
A code that has never truly established itself at club level in the region gave unmistakable signs of doing so yesterday, however, when the recently formed South Wales side showed its qualities by beating Carlisle in a Second Division curtain-raiser to the main event of a Super League fixture between Sheffield Eagles and St Helens.
The South Wales side, largely composed of ageing war horses and raw recruits from rugby union, bears no relation to the one that will play here if, as they should be, the club is accepted into next season's Super League. But the side has been good enough to compete respectably in most of its matches so far, and it was too good for a Carlisle team making the long round trip from the game's other frontier on the Scottish borders.
The veteran full-back Willie Richardson was the most disorientated man among Carlisle in the opening minutes, missing a high kick from Anthony Hatton to allow Andy Currier to sco- op up the loose ball and score a try converted by Ioan Bebb, son of Dewie Bebb - of esteemed memory - and a product of the Welsh Student Rugby League side. When Carlisle hit back, it was through a member of the Welsh squad recently returned from a notable victory in France, Barry Williams taking Mike Kavanagh's pass to slice through.
The general picture, though, was of South Wales, with their enterprising back play and strong running from two international second-rowers, Paul Moriarty, of Wales, and Gerald Williams, of South Africa, dominating proceedings. It was only a failure to take their chances that restricted South Wales to a Mark Wall- ington drop goal which edged them a point further ahead.
The introduction of Hugh Waddell produced a more significant breakthrough, the former Carlisle player-coach driving to within a couple of yards of the line and Wallington forcing his way over. That should have given South Wales a comfortable platform for the second half, but there was a warning from Carlisle when Danny Russell had a try disallowed. Worse followed when a great run from the Cumbrian Welshman Williams put Russell in for one that did count.
The years looked to be starting to tell on South Wales, but their substitute, James Alvis, lifted them again with a run just as good as Williams', and a pass that put Bebb over for a converted try. Yet another storming run from Carlisle's Williams yielded a try for Gary Ruddy, but Currier then showed a glimpse of his Great Britain pedigree with a stunning break from midfield for a try that put the Welsh on course for victory.
Wallington also went half the length of the field for his second, and Currier spurned a hat-trick by putting a try on a plate for Gerald Cordle, who was on his old club ground. Richardson managed a late reply, but Carlisle could not spoil the party. The crowd had built up nicely, considering the sporting competition yesterday afternoon, and The Old Arcade was not struck by lightning.Reuse content