McIntosh double

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Pontypridd 35

Ebbw Vale 18

THE first Heineken league game of the season came as a vast release to the players, whose heads could not have failed to be turned, or at least confused, by the promise of riches, most of them non-existent in a relatively poor country like Wales.

Pontypridd, runners-up to Cardiff last season, played an Ebbw Vale side making its First Division debut with three key players, including the ace goal kicker Neil Jenkins, in South Africa.

The home team lost Lee Jarvis, their promising Welsh Schools fly-half after only 15 minutes and were given a hard time by Ebbw Vale for the opening half-hour, after which they trailed 10-6. But they then scored three positive tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half to give them a winning lead at the interval of 23 points to 10.

Pontypridd, who play Milan on 22 November at home, and Leinster away on 6 December in the newly formed European league, with the semi-finals on 30 December and the final at Cardiff 6 January, will, in common with Cardiff and Swansea, at last be able to measure their abilities against stronger opposition than that afforded by the Heineken league.

Certainly on this evidence, they look as if they are again going to be one of the leading clubs in Wales this season. They were far too well organised up front, and more positive behind than the luckless Ebbw Vale.

Pontypridd's effort in scoring five tries garnered an extra two points over and above their two points for a win, under the new rules introduced for the Heineken leagues this season. Matches are being being spiced up by an extra league point being awarded for three or four tries scored, two points for five or six and three for more than seven tries.

Lee James and Christian Cormack kicked two penalty goals in the first half for Pontypridd, and tries came from Nicky Lloyd, Ceri Thomas and Dale McIntosh with Cormack kicking a conversion, while for Ebbw Vale Ben Watkins scored a try converted by Byron Hayward, and Hayward also kicked a penalty.

After the interval, Dale McIntosh got his second try converted by Cormack and Gavin Jones got another, but Ebbw Vale refused to buckle under the pressure and Hayward kicked another penalty and Neil Morgan scored a try to keep them respectably in the game.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, C Thomas; L Jarvis, N Lloyd; N Bezani (capt), P John, J Alvis, P Owen, M Rowley, M Lloyd, P Thomas, D McIntosh.

Ebbw Vale: D Worgan; I Jeffries, C Jones, B Hayward, H Laugharne; M Boys, D Llewellyn; A Phillips, S Jones, W Ford, E Moores, A Patey, K Jones (capt), P Hudson, B Watkins.

Referee: H Lewis (Litchard).