Ruagby Union: Fenwick faces high degree of difficulty

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The Independent Online
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RUGBY now being a business as well as a pleasure, Steve Fenwick, 30 times a Wales centre when things were different in the Seventies, was appointed Bridgend's chief executive yesterday. As he was

already helping with the coaching, he did not need the subsequent beating by Pontypridd to appreciate the degree of his task's difficulty.

Until Bridgend were beyond

redemption and pulled back a try by Sean Gale, it was a dispirited performance typical of too much that has been going on of late. How they could have won at Llanelli last month was the oddity, not how they lost so conclusively yesterday.

Fenwick's brief is more off-field than on but, even so, the first thing he needs to do is ensure that the players from the Bridgend area gravitate to the Brewery Field rather than elsewhere. The point was emphasised by the presence in the grandstand of the Neath captain, Gareth Llewellyn, from nearby Llanharan.

Llewellyn's attendance was due to the postponement of the

Swansea-Neath match along with the rest of the Heineken League First Division programme bar this. Volunteers had spent the morning forking the pitch and within five minutes of the announcement of Fenwick's appointment the sun came out.

There the new chief's influence ran out and, when further torrents and churning boots turned grass to mud, completion of the full 80 minutes - necessary for the result to stand - seemed improbable. .

In the end Bridgend might have hoped for an abandonment despite their earlier labour. The Pontypridd pack gave a masterly wet- weather display, performing wonders to make their line-out ball usable as well as plentiful, and

behind them the authoritative Paul John and Neil Jenkins selected and executed a perfect variety of tactics.

Jenkins's contribution - as an outside-half rather than simply a kicker of goals - was especially timely in view the forthcoming Wales match against Scotland. He more than anyone, though by no means alone, has orchestrated

Pontypridd's elevation among the elite. They now stand third, three points behind the leaders, Swansea.

Yesterday his place-kicking was not its usual self but with tries by David Manley, Owen Robbins, Dale McIntosh and a penalty try, for once they did not need it. McIntosh preferred playing at Bridgend to sitting on the bench at the Scottish trial - an indication of the thriving spirit that sustains Welsh rugby's dark horses.

Bridgend: Try Gale. Pontypridd: Tries Manley, Robbins, McIntosh, penalty try; Conversions Jenkins 2; Penalty Jenkins.

Bridgend: D Davies; P Wintle, G Jones, J Daley, B Grabham; M Lewis (T Morgan, 26), K Mably; A Bumford, I Greenslade, S Gale, S Jenkins (J Derrick, 38), I Spender, O Lloyd, N Spender, D Bryant (capt).

Pontypridd: M Back; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, O Robbins; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser (N Jones, 14-17), M Rowley, M Spiller, D McIntosh, P Thomas.

Referee: D Bevan (Clydach).