Rugby Union: Aberavon's graft overcomes Swansea's fading glitz

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The Independent Online
Aberavon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

Swansea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

IT was a heart-warming triumph of graft over glamour, of grit over glitz. Swansea, with more caps than a milliners' shop, succumbed for the second successive Saturday to plain hard work and tenacity. In the process, they lost any realistic hope of the League title.

There were thrills but no frills at a Talbot Athletic ground shrouded in mist. It seemed to engulf Swansea and remove their will to take strides towards the championship.

Aberavon - like Pontypridd the previous Saturday - relied on relentless harassing and tackling, on getting the basic craft right against more skilful players.

It is true that Swansea, who started the game with a glimmer of hope of the title, were substantially weakened by the call of the sevens in Scotland and by injury. Above all, Roberts Jones' departure with a shoulder injury in the first-half robbed them of the player who might have forged some coherent rugby.

But a weakness of spirit and an absence of will seemed as big a problem. There was nobody in the Swansea pack who could shake any life into the side.

Indeed, the forwards seemed tired to the core. Richard Moriarty in the second row has been the trustiest campaigner over countless seasons, but gentler pastures might suit him better in the years to come.

Behind him, the backs lacked flair and verve, generating excitement only once, in the final moments of the game, when they at last realised they were facing defeat. Even then, though, a forward pass snuffed out the possibility of a score.

Apart from this hint at a try, there was little for the non-partisan supporter to cheer. In Llanelli, meanwhile, they can afford to ease up a little. A scarlet ribbon might now be tied - albeit not tightly - around the trophy.

Aberavon: J Griffiths (N Griffith, 75 min); A Bucknall, J Jardine, G Thomas, A Graham; D Love, B Roach; M Griffiths, A Jones (I Evans 73 min), K Allen, M Evans, I Spender, B Shenton, P Hamley, C Kinsey.

Swansea: D Weatherley; M Titley, J Ball, S Gibbs, S Barclay; A Clement, R Jones (J Greenslade, 26 min); I Buckett, R McBryde, K Colclough, P Arnold, R Moriarty, A Reynolds, S Davies (capt), R Webster.

Referee: C Jones.

Scorers: Ball (pen, 7 min 0-3); Love (pen, 11 min, 3-3), Ball (drop-goal, 21 min, 3-6); Thomas (pen, 42 min, 6-6); Love (pen, 49 min, 9-6); Love (drop goal, 84 min, 12-6).

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