Jenkins shows his repertoire

Llanelli 17 Pontypridd 35
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The Independent Online
Pontypridd are convinced they have instilled the missing ingredients into their potent mix of talent and technique to enable them to dispose of their nearly men tag. In a nutshell, confidence.

The self-belief of a side challenging for a league and cup double came shining through at Bridgend's Brewery Field on Saturday as they ultimately destroyed Llanelli for a comprehensive Swalec Cup semi-final victory that takes them to Cardiff Arms Park on 4 May.

Last season Pontypridd were the Heineken League and cup bridesmaids. A good side, even a very good side, but still not quite good enough to win trophies.

A year on and, on the surface anyway, apparently nothing much has changed. They are through to a second successive final, where they will meet Neath, and are handily placed in third spot in the league.

But Dennis John, their coach, insists that things really have changed, that his side no longer fear anyone and that they have the mental hardness to take the step up from being second best to best.

"We know now that on our day we can beat any side in Wales. There is no inferiority complex," he said. "We showed we are capable of winning a game which we looked well out of - you can't buy heart, and that was a performance full of heart."

And at the heart of a revival which turned an eight-point minute deficit in the 51st minute into a thumping victory was Neil Jenkins. The Wales stand-off scored 26 points in as many minutes but also yet again demonstrated there is so much more to his game than his phenomenal goal kicking.

"Neil was outstanding, he gave them the composure when they needed it the most," said Llanelli coach Gareth Jenkins. Not to mention the crucial handling parts Jenkins played in two of the four Pontypridd tries, including a searing break and beautifully weighted long pass to free David Manley for the wing's second try.

That sparked further scores for the scrum-half Paul John, Jenkins again the provider, and a glorious last-minute counter-attack which the wing Geraint Lewis finished off with aplomb.

Jenkins had got the ball rolling with the first of his five penalty goals but the Scarlets, who used the biting wind at their backs intelligently and prospered in the line-out where the lanky lock Paul Jones was outstanding, battled back with f Stephen Pearce landing three penalties and a cool drop goal.

Rupert Moon even snatched a try from a Pontypridd scrum but that could not prevent heartbreak for the departing Llanelli captain Phil Davies as his 56th and final cup match foundered on Pontypridd's new-found self- belief.

Llanelli: Try Moon; Penalties Pearce 3; Drop goal Pearce. Pontypridd: Tries Manley 2, Paul John, G Lewis; Penalties 5 Jenkins.

Llanelli: J Thomas; I Evans, N Boobyer, N Davies, W Proctor; S Pearce, R Moon; R Evans, R McBryde, S John, P Davies (capt), P Jones, M Perego (P Morris, 49m), C Wyatt, G Jones.

Pontypridd: G Jones; D Manley, J Lewis, C Cormack, G Lewis; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, N Eynon, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller (M Lloyd, 69m), D McIntosh, R Collins.

Referee: David R Davies (Llanbradach).

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