Rugby League: Crowd spur for Wales

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The Independent Online
THE RUGBY public of South Wales can virtually assure itself of a match against Australia later this year if tonight's match against France draws the crowd expected.

Ticket sales suggest a five-figure gate for the first match in the Welsh capital since the national rugby league side was re-formed in 1991, and the word is that this would guarantee a match against the biggest draw in the sport this autumn.

Wales, despite a nerve-racking 19-18 win in France last season, will be expected to win handsomely at Ninian Park tonight. The absence of John Devereux, with a back injury that is starting to cause some long-term concern, is a blow, but it is a mark of Wales's strength on the flanks that they can bring in a player of Gerald Cordle's power and have another in Adrian Hadley on the bench.

The addition of the Anglo- Welshman, Mark Perrett, makes the Welsh pack, which has always lacked a genuine loose forward, look better balanced.

The greatest interest, however, will be centred on the performance of the former Swansea and Lions rugby union forward, Richard Webster, if and when he gets a run.

France have made wholesale changes since playing New Zealand in November, and the second-row combination of Didier Cabestany and Daniel Divet could give a heavy Welsh pack some problems.

WALES (v France, Ninian Park, today): Ford (Salford); Cordle (Bradford), Bateman (Warrington), Davies (Warrington, capt), Sullivan (St Helens); Griffiths (St Helens), Ellis (Warrington); Young (Salford), B Williams (Carlisle), Jones (Hull), Moriarty (Widnes), Phillips (Warrington), Perrett (Halifax). Substitutes: Powell (Bradford), Hadley (Widnes), Marlow (Wakefield), Webster (Salford).

FRANCE: Frison (Villefranche); Sirvent (St Gaudens), Despin (Villefranche), Fraisse (Sheffield), Garcia (St Esteve); Fages (Pia), Entat (Avignon, capt); Teixido (Limoux), Torreilles (Pia), Llong (Catelan), Cabestany (Catalan), Divet (Hull), Valero (Lezignan). Substitutes: Attia (Carpentras), Jampy (Catalan), Martinez (St Gaudens), Couttet (Carcassonne).

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).