Jenkins' joy

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The Independent Online
Bridgend 12

Pontypridd 17

IT WAS no day for bonus points and there will be no more frolicking on hard grounds as both the weather and the league reverted to type, producing a dog-fight between the leading teams in the First Division.

An early clue to the conditions came when Neil Jenkins dropped his first pass, but it made no difference when it came to place-kicking, as he hammered over the first of his four penalties.

Bridgend responded with a penalty by Matthew Lewis, which was followed by the only try of the game when the Pontypridd scrum half, Nicky Lloyd, put up a speculative kick from the base of a scrum on the halfway line for the winger Simon Enoch to gather and make ground before slipping to Dale McIntosh, who has recently returned from Swansea, and the Maori centre stormed in at the corner.

Another penalty and a dropped goal by Lewis, the latter from a clever reverse pass by Robert Howley, made it 9-8 to Bridgend at half-time.

In the second half, Pontypridd continued to be ill-disciplined and again incurred the displeasure of the referee, Leo Mayne of Ireland, and Lewis kicked his third penalty. Another penalty by Neil Jenkins made the score an exciting 12-11, which is more than can be said for the rugby. Finally, Neil Jenkins secured a narrow win with two penalty goals in the last five minutes.

The game was notable for some poor defensive centre play by Bridgend's Welsh centres, Gareth Thomas and Gareth Jones, who were extremely vulnerable to the incisive running of Jason Lewis. Pontypridd always had a slight edge in the forwards, particularly in the lineout, which allowed them to build up the pressure in the second half of this poor game.

Bridgend: C Bradshaw; P Jones, G Jones, G Thomas, G Wilkins; M Lewis, R Howley (capt); D Francis, I Greenslade, S Gale, G Rowlands, E Williams, N Jones, N Thomas, J Forster.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; G Jones, S McIntosh, J Lewis, S Enoch; N Jenkins (capt), N Lloyd; N Eynon, P John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, P Thomas, M Lloyd.

Referee: Leo Mayne (Irish RU).