Honest Jenkins rules himself out of contention for Wales

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The Independent Online
Aberavon 3 Pontypridd 19

Neil Jenkins is nothing if not honest and his brutally frank verdict on his first full game in nine weeks should mean that this week's Welsh selection meeting means the coach, Kevin Bowring, will do little other than rubber-stamp the side which battled so bravely against England.

All eyes were firmly focused on the return of Jenkins the week before Wales meet Scotland. Could he mount a big enough challenge to oust the new wonder boy, Arwel Thomas? Pontypridd got stuck in the mud against the Heineken League basement side and failed to take over the top spot from Llanelli. Their three tries were, in the end, only good enough to hoist them from fourth place to second.

Jenkins played his part with two conversions but was not totally happy with his form, or chances of returning to the Test side. "I'm glad to be back, but I need a few more games to get fully match fit," Jenkins said. "I don't think I have done enough to put myself back in the frame for the Scotland game. It is a pity I couldn't have had another match."

Jenkins went into his first competitive match since injuring his shoulder before Christmas having worked out with the Welsh squad on Friday night and Saturday morning. That workload, along with the heavy pitch at the Talbot Athletic Ground, obviously took its toll.

Apart from reclaiming his international place Jenkins' other challenge will be to keep Pontypridd going in the battle for the Heineken League title. This missed opportunity will have given the defending champions, Cardiff, and the current league leaders, Llanelli, great heart, but neither Pontypridd nor Jenkins are ready to be written off just yet.

Aberavon: Penalty Stork. Pontypridd: Tries Paul John, Manley, G Lewis. Conversions Jenkins 2.

Aberavon: N Stork; R Diplock, C Laity, J Jardine, S Hutchinson (S Barclay 71); M Watts (G Thomas 73), G Baber; D Austin, M Bernard, R Jasper (H Merrett 56), P Clapham, P Matthews, B Shenton (capt), G Evans, R Morris.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley (S Enoch 51), S Lewis, J Lewis, G Lewis; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, P Owen, M Lloyd, D McIntosh, M Williams.

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff).

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