Jenkins shows Fiji the way

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The Independent Online
ROB COLE

Pontypridd 31 Fiji 13

No wonder Brad Johnstone, the Fijian technical adviser, has gone down on bended knee to Frano Botica and asked him to join his coaching staff this week to help cure his side's biggest problem area, goalkicking.

In nearly all other phases the Fijians have proved they are capable of competing at a very high level. Their discipline still needs some fine tuning and their scrum could be tighter, but neither fault compares with that in the kicking department. In five matches they have now missed 33 shots at goal. Against Wales A, even the lock Iferemi Tawake took the final conversion.

There was only one success out of six goal attempts at Sardis Road, a penalty from the full-back Joetani Waqa which gave the tourists a 13th- minute lead, and unless they can improve their appalling ratio they seem doomed to failure in Saturday's international against Wales.

That is why Johnstone has called on the expert services of Botica, the former Wigan goalkicker, to help him out in the build up to the Test.

"I just can't understand it. In training the three kickers we have been using just don't seem to miss, yet when they get out on the paddock it all goes wrong," Johnstone said.

"I still think we are in there with a shot for the international and I know that our top XV can be very competitive. It would just be nice if we could cure our kicking problems."

Johnstone must have cast envious eyes at Neil Jenkins as he helped himself to 16 points to steer Pontypridd to a notable victory. For the Welsh No 10 it was not just a warm-up for the international, but a statement of intent that he is ready to rise to any challenge for his Test place mounted by the return of Jonathan Davies.

Jenkins also controlled the tactics well, although it was the home pack that did the damage. A brilliant driving maul from a line-out won by Mark Rowley brought the first try, and a rock solid scrum allowed a blindside raid by the back row to set up the wing David Manley for the second.

The centre Steele Lewis rounded off the tourists' heaviest defeat to date this tour with a try on the stroke of time, but Saturday could still be a different story.

Pontypridd: Tries Phil John, Manley, S Lewis; Conversions Jenkins 2; Penalties: Jenkins 4. Fiji: Tries Bari, Rokotuiviwa; Penalty Waqa.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, G Jones; N Jenkins, Paul John (N Lloyd 63); N Bezani (capt), Phil John, N Eynon, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, M Lloyd (R Collins 68), P Thomas.

Fiji: J Waqa; E Bolobolo, W Rokotuiviwa, R Bogisa, M Bari; O Turuva, J McLennan; S Sadria, E Batimala, V Cavubati, A Nadolo, L Vatureva, T Tamanivalu (W Masirewa 47), S Vonolagi (capt), M Korovou.

Referee: R McDowell (Ireland).

n France have recalled the stand-off Alain Penaud for the opening Test against New Zealand in Toulouse on Saturday. The selectors turned to him after the first-choice stand-off, Christophe Deylaud, said he needed a break. It will be the 20th international appearance for Penaud, who was dropped after France were beaten by England in Paris in the 1994 Five Nations Championship.

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