Jenkins' dismay

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The Independent Online
NEIL JENKINS' hopes of lining up for Wales in their Five Nations' Championship opener at Twickenham next Saturday hinge on a behind-closed- doors practice match tomorrow night following the cancellation of Pontypridd's meeting with New South Wales.

The 24-year-old fly-half, who has been sidelined for six weeks with a collarbone injury, rushed back to Sardis Road yesterday from the Welsh squad's training camp in Pembroke only for the fixture to fall foul of the snow.

Jenkins, Wales's leading points scorer, had been told he needed to play at least one game in order to recapture the No 10 shirt from Bristol's Arwel Thomas.

But he will have what appears to be one last chance to prove his fitness tomorrow when he turns out against a Wales Under-21 team at Cardiff Arms Park. Derek Quinnell, the Wales manager, said the loss of yesterday's game had "made it more difficult for us to select him", but he added that Jenkins' chances of being selected in the side on Tuesday morning "mustn't be written off yet".

Jenkins' disappointment yesterday was matched by that of spectators who had looked forward to seeing the great Austral-ian wing David Campese, who, though 33, is still coveted by the likes of Harlequins and Leicester.

Contrary to popular expectation, Jonathan Davies, another 33-year-old, will not be called up to the Wales replacements' bench if Jenkins does pull out. Rugby union's highest-profile "convert" from league went into hospital yesterday for keyhole surgery on a torn knee ligament and could be out for three weeks. "Jonathan should be playing again before the Swalec Cup match against Swansea on 24 February," Cardiff coach Terry Holmes said.

In England, the loss of all but one of the eight Pilkington Cup ties will not have worried big-spending Newcastle one bit. Their player-manager Rob Andrew was due to make his competitive debut for the club against Harlequins yesterday, but if the game is shifted to 10 February, several other recruits will be eligible, including the Irish prop Nick Popplewell and the England forward Dean Ryan. A delay until 24 February will also put the Scottish internationals Gary Armstrong and Doddie Weir into the frame.

There was some rugby in the North-east yesterday, though, North Shields booking their Pilkington Shield quarter-final place with a 5-0 win over Ledbury, courtesy of a Tony Rendles try, on a pitch which had a four-inch covering of snow. The other sixth-round tie to go ahead was in Cornwall where Helston beat Folkestone 20-18 to reach the last eight for the first time. Martin Laity and Phil Elliot scored the home tries while Dave Lockwood kicked their other points. The visitors' tries came via Lee Hollows, Danny Barnes and Nick Eede.

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