Jenkins' boot wins ugly contest

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

TIM GLOVER

Pontypridd 31 Milan 12

Exotic days in Wales: Jonah Lomu appearing in Blaina; a galaxy of stars in Llanelli for Ieuan Evans' testimonial and last night Milan in Pontypridd for the inaugural Heineken European Cup. It was the first such match in the Principality and Pontypridd became the first Welsh club to record a victory but what a desperate, ugly affair it was.

Neil Jenkins kicked eight penalties and converted the only try of the match while the visitors had a player sent off. For Milan, already beaten by Leinster, it was arrivederchi.

An extraordinary row before the start must have left the sponsors wondering whether they had entered a brave new commercial world or amateur night in the sticks. Heineken, as they have done in the other matches in the Cup, expect the teams to play with a Gilbert ball marked with the company's logo. Pontypridd stubbornly refused, arguing that they had not had a chance to practice with the Heineken version even though their own was also a Gilbert.

One of the central figures in a dire first half was the referee Brian Campsall as he issued a flood of penalties in attempting to keep an ill- tempered game under control. The result was simply a display of goal-kicking between Jenkins and his opposite number Dominguez.

Jenkins kicked five penalties, Dominquez three as Pontypridd led 15-9 at the interval. Jenkins, who also hit the post with yet another attempt, was assisted in his role by Italian indiscipline.

The second half was not much better with another spate of penalties. Campsall finally lost his patience, sending off Giovanelli in the 68th minute for butting. Mercifully, Pontypridd, having put the boot in through Jenkins, finally applied the stiletto with a try from David Manley.

Pontypridd: Try Manley; Conversion Jenkins; Penalties Jenkins (8). Milan: Penalties Dominguez (4).

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley, J Lewis, S McIntosh, G Jones; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, N Eynon, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller (R Collins, 20), M Lloyd, P Thomas.

Milan: F Williams; M Platania, F Gomez, M Tommasi, Marcello Cuttitta; D Dominguez, M Bonomi; Massimo Cuttitta (capt), A Marengoni, F Properzi, P Pedroni, F Berni, D Beretta, G Milano, M Giovanelli.

Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).

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