Rugby Union: Gibbs lifts Swansea out of downward spiral

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Swansea 33 Pontypridd 19

After a traumatic week that included a record defeat at Bath and a jolt at Dunvant, Swansea got their season back on track with a convincing victory over the Swalec Cup holders in the Welsh First Division last night.

Pontypridd arrived with justifiable hopes of ending a 24-year famine at St Helens, yet found themselves overpowered again thanks to a burst of 22 points in 14 second-half minutes.

Things started well enough for the visitors. Neil Jenkins kicked a penalty after only eight minutes and then the Ponty skipper added two more. Swansea were looking cumbersome playing into the stiff breeze and the prospect of their increasing their two-point lead at the top of the First Division table looked remote.

A moment of deft handling magic from Scott Gibbs, beginning to repay some of the pounds 200,000 transfer fee paid for him this summer, turned the course of events. Both sides had shown considerable intent to run the ball, yet until Gibbs was able to offload in the tackle to allow his centre partner Mark Taylor to send the winger Roddy Boobyer racing over for the first try of the game, Swansea had been all fingers and thumbs.

That try, Boobyer's fourth in four games against Ponty, seemed to settle the home side and when Arwel Thomas further reduced the deficit with his first penalty they changed ends a mere four points adrift.

Maybe it was the wind at their backs, or simply that they wanted to expunge from their minds the memory of those two defeats from the previous weeks but Swansea emerged a different side after the break. It took only 52 seconds for them to add a second try, Stuart Evans sending Paul Arnold over on the left.

It was open house after that. Taylor was next in the act two minutes later, and full-back Luc Evans rounded off a sweet passing movement to add another.

All the time Thomas was adding extra points to keep himself at the head of the Welsh scoring lists. He converted two of those three second-half tries, added a penalty and dropped a goal to complete the rout.

Swansea: L Evans; Simon Davies, M Taylor, S Gibbs, A Palfrey; A Thomas, C MacDonald; C Loader, H Bevan, S Evans, S Moore, P Arnold, A Reynolds, C Charvis, Stuart Davies (capt).

Pontypridd: K Morgan; D Manley, J Lewis, S Enoch, O Robbins; N Jenkins (capt), Paul John M de Maid, 65); N Eynon, Phil John, I Jones, N Jones, G Prosser, M Lloyd (M Williams, 75), R Collins, D McIntosh.

Referee: E R Davies (Llanbradach).