Rayer raises Cardiff

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SPECULATION concerning the return of Jonathan Davies to his rugby union roots and a midweek defeat by Bridgend may have unsettled lesser sides, but Cardiff put it all behind them in style by running nine tries past the hapless Treorchy in a 67-3 victory which took them from fifth to third, level on points with Pontypridd, in the Heineken League First Division.

The home side were further lifted by the return late in the game by the wing Mike Rayer - who broke his leg in the corresponding fixture 51 weeks ago. Treorchy, without a victory in this year's campaign, were powerless to prevent their heaviest league defeat as Adrian Davies converted eight of the tries in his 26-point haul.

Llanelli leapt to the top with a 39-16 victory at Aberavon, where Wayne Proctor and Justin Thomas scored two tries each. Newport and Neath shared 20 points in the first draw this season. Richard Rees and Chris Higgs scored tries for each side respectively. David Llewellyn touched down in a dour 16-9 Ebbw Vale victory at Abertillery.

Simon Shaw, the England lock, had a storming match at the forefront of a dominant pack as Bristol saw off Sale 30-6 at the Memorial Ground for their third Courage League One win. The second of Bristol's brace of tries came after two powerful surges from the young giant before Mark Tainton - who collected 17 points with the boot - chipped ahead for Dean Wring to score at the post.

Northampton continued their bid for a rapid return to the top flight with a 49-17 rout of Bedford in League Two, but London Scottish kept up the pressure on Saints as they maintained their own 100 per cent record with a 20-16 victory at Wakefield.