Rugby Union: All Whites exploit advantage

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The Independent Online
Swansea 31 Cardiff 15

THE PERFECT script would have read something like this. A substantial crowd, a passionate affair between Swansea and Cardiff and a firm indication that on Thursday night the Welsh Rugby Union would impose nothing more than a suspended sentence on the rebel clubs for leaving the Premier Division to play a series of friendly fixtures against England's leading teams.

Nothing, however, is straightforward within the realms of Welsh rugby these days and though it was a passionate affair between the rebel clubs, both might have to accept that two out of three ain't bad. The WRU has taken a dim view of the clubs' decision and when it convenes at this week's special general meeting, the governing body is sure to mete out significant punishment.

Thankfully, the threat of sanctions did not deter from this supposed friendly encounter in front of Welsh rugby's biggest crowd of the day. It was traditional fare, with both sides providing adequate proof of why they should be among the four "super" clubs to be chosen by the union on 31 January.

In the end Swansea, champions last season and flourishing under the guidance of coach John Plumtree, won by virtue of their forward dominance. They stood toe to toe with an often ill-disciplined Cardiff back five, which became a back three when the Canadian flanker Dan Baugh and the Polish No 8 Greg Kacala were sent to the sin-bin by Fred Howard.

Swansea displayed a more innovative side to their game. and made the most of their numerical advantage in the first half and had the game's outstanding player in the loose- head prop Darren Morris.

By that break, Swansea were out of sight after Matthew Robinson, with two tries, and stand-off Lee Davies, with a hat-trick of penalties, gave the home team a 19-3 interval lead. And though Craig Morgan and Baugh, with second-half tries, cut the deficit, the All Whites made sure of victory with further tries from Davies and the irrepressible Scott Gibbs.

Swansea: Tries Robinson 2, L Davies, Gibbs; Conversions L Davies; Penalties: L Davies 3. Cardiff: Tries Baugh, Morgan; Conversions Burke; Penalty Burke.

Swansea: D Weatherley; R Rees, M Taylor, S Gibbs (capt), M Robinson (C van Rensburg, 49); L Davies, R Jones; D Morris, G Jenkins, B Evans, T Maullin (P Arnold, 6), A Moore (J Griffiths, 75), C Charvis, L Jones, D Thomas.

Cardiff: J Thomas; C Morgan, L Davies, G Thomas (M Wintle, 70), S Hill; P Burke, R Jones; A Lewis (capt), J Humphreys, S John (L Mustoe, 70), J Tait (D Jones, 41), S Williams, O Williams, G Kacala, D Baugh.

Referee: F Howard (England).

n Llanelli went to the top of the Welsh Premier Division when they beat Pontypridd 24-16 at Srtradey Park on Saturday night. Byron Hayward stole the limelight on his debut from the returning Scott Quinnell, converting eight penalties.

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