Rugby Union: Cardiff maturing

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Cardiff. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Neath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8

THEY say winning becomes a habit and Mike Hall, the Cardiff captain, is enjoying every minute of his club and country's new-found success this year.

To date, 1994 has been one success story after another for the Welsh centre - three fine performances for Wales to help them to the brink of the Grand Slam and three wins and a draw for Cardiff, keeping them well and truly in the hunt for a possible Heineken League and Swalec Cup double.

With a home draw in the quarter-finals of the cup, against Second Division South Wales Police, a place in the last four looks a safe bet and, having drawn with Llanelli and now beaten Neath, a top three finish in the league is likely.

Had the result gone the other way against Neath on Saturday, as it seemed to be destined, the criticism that stung the Arms Park club into such committed and purposeful action would have increased.

Quite simply, Cardiff have the potential but not the stomach to succeed at the very highest levels. What this victory did was show they are beginning to add steel to their subtlety and tenacity to their tactics.

It was always going to be a case of having to shut down the Neath forwards, and though the visiting eight held the upper hand they were never able to dictate the course of events as they would have liked.

The result was that they became increasingly desperate in the final quarter, after Adrian Davies had kicked Cardiff into a one-point lead, to the point of being reckless.

One such moment came five minutes from time when Matthew McCarthy tried to kick ahead near touch on the half-way line and had his effort charged down by Andy Moore.

The Cardiff scrum-half regained possession, found Andrew Lewis, the outstanding Wales Under-21 prop, on his shoulder and then sat back and watched Davies race 40 metres for the match-winning try.

Cardiff: Try Davies; Penalties Davies 3. Neath: Try Woodland; Penalty Thorburn.

Cardiff: M Rayer; S Hill, M Hall (capt), C Laity, N Walker; A Davies, R Moon; A Lewis (K Matthews, 79), H Bevan, P Sedgemore, J Wakeford, D Jones, M Bennett, O Williams, M Budd (H Stone, 5).

Neath: P Thorburn; A Harries (J Reynolds, 30-35), S Crandon, H Woodland, K Holifield; M McCarthy, C Bridges; Brian Williams, Barrie Williams, J Davies, Glyn Llewellyn, Gareth Llewellyn (capt), M Morris, S Williams, A Varney.

Referee: H Jones (Ammanford).