Rugby Union: Awesome Arwel

Swansea 63 Ebbw Vale 3
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The Independent Online
ARWEL THOMAS is used to being in the news. Anybody who wears the No 10 jersey for Wales has to suffer the attention of a nation in a way that no other rugby player has to deal with.

This season the "Trebanos Terror" has had his ups and downs, but this was certainly one of the better performances from the Swansea stand-off. He orchestrated the game for the Premier Division leaders in such a way that they were able to plunder nine tries against a side only three places below them in the table. Invariably, Thomas was at the heart of the moves which led to the majority of the scores.

Playing like one of the old dapper stand-offs of rugby league in the Sixties, bringing the huge forwards on to him before releasing a runner on his inside or out, he was the catalyst for a victory which means the All Whites are now eight points clear at the top of the table and firmly on course for a third title.

And if they can maintain this form against Ebbw Vale in the Swalec Cup quarter-final next month then the double could be within their grasp.

But as well as winning trophies for his club, Thomas is determined to gain more caps for his country after his up-and-down Five Nations campaign this season. Having come unstuck as first choice against England, he helped Wales save the day against Scotland as a first-half replacement. Yet when Wales play Ireland on Saturday Thomas will be watching on a television in Limerick after playing for the A team the night before.

"I was disappointed to find myself dropped for the game against Ireland. It made me question whether I wanted to play for Wales," Thomas said. "But I soon realised once it had sunk in that I wasn't going to be involved with the game in Ireland that the Welsh team is where I want to be. Being dropped has made me switch on mentally to what I want to achieve and made me more determined to have a more professional attitude.

"I want to get back into the frame for the game against France and to make sure I get on the tour to South Africa this summer."

His 18 points, taking his league tally this season to 165, will no doubt catch the eye of Kevin Bowring when he picks up the papers this morning, but it was more the way that Thomas was able to run the game for Swansea that was so impressive.

He brings out the best in players around him, even if he does infuriate his own fans with the odd moment of eccentricity. If being dropped by Wales was disappointing for him, then his response to that bombshell has been extremely positive.

The tries flowed thick and fast throughout the game, although there was a 20-minute lull midway through the second half, and the international trio of Garin Jenkins, Scott Gibbs and Paul Moriarty all grabbed two tries apiece. It will be a different game at Ebbw Vale in the cup, but do not rule out a possible league and cup double for Thomas and his rampant teammates.

Swansea: D Weatherley (L Davies, 73); R Rees, M Taylor, S Gibbs, R Wintle; A Thomas, A Booth (R Jones, 43); J Evans (I Buckett, 59), G Jenkins (capt), C Anthony, P Arnold, A Moore (T Maulin, 59), P Moriarty, C Charvis (D Thomas, 56), S Davies (C Wells, 77).

Ebbw Vale: S Taumololo; L Woodard, J Funnell, J Strange, A Harries; B Hayward (capt; J Hawker, 34), D Llewellyn; A Phillips (I Thomas, 49), S Jones (L Phillips, 49), M Wilson, C Billen, K Faletau (N Thomas, 62), R Collins (G Green, 74), P Pook, M Jones.

Referee: Huw Lewis (Bridgend).

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