Pontypridd make their point

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The Independent Online
THIS contest between championship contenders Pontypridd and relegation- haunted Aberavon was a crucial one for the former, who needed to bounce back into contention after losing to a weakened Swansea side.

Not surprisingly they played a full-strength team, apart from resting Ritchie Collins in favour of Martin Williams, who is in the Welsh A squad. All eyes, however, were on Welsh fly-half Neil Jenkins, back from a shoulder injury which has kept him out for eight weeks. He was content to ease his way back gently, and it will be surprising if the selectors pick him for the Scotland match.

The early territorial advantage and the opening exchanges were much in Aberavon's favour, and their continuous pressure brought them a penalty goal by Nick Stork. The visitors were bewildered by Aberavon's fast and furious play, and the first quarter stayed almost entirely in Pontypridd's half.

In fact it took Pontypridd over 20 minutes to put in a worthwhile attack, when good distribution by Jenkins put David Manley away, and the familiar grafting tactics of their forwards brought a scrambled try by Paul John, converted by Jenkins.

Unabashed, Aberavon stormed back and only last-ditch tackles and a knock- on prevented a score. But at 7-3 at half time the Pontypridd pack were getting the upper hand.

In the second half Pontypridd continued to grind down the lively Aberavon pack, and from a series of rolling mauls, Jason Lewis put Manley over for a try in the corner.

Then, when an Aberavon attack broke down, the winger Simon Hutchinson dropping a pass, Geraint Lewis picked up to run unopposed for 60 yards, while Jenkins converted.

This gave Pontypridd a bonus point, taking them to second in the league with the same number of points as leaders Llanelli, who have scored more tries,

Aberavon lost their prop Richard Jasper and, because of injury, only had his flanker as a replacement, and therefore the scrums were not contested for the remainder of the game, which petered out in a flurry of mistakes. When the final whistle came it was a relief to everyone concerned.

Aberavon: N Stork; R Diplock, J Jardine, C Laity, S Hutchinson; M Watts, G Baber; D Austin, M Bernard, R Jasper, P Clapham, P Matthews, B Shenton (capt), R Morris, G Evans.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, G Lewis; N Jenkins, P John; N Bezzani (capt), Phil John, A Metcalfe, P Owen, G Prosser, M Lloyd, M Williams, D McIntosh.