Rugby Union: Hill rises above morass

Aberavon 12 Cardiff 20
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IN THE longer term it might not matter that Cardiff won this dreadful Swalec Cup sixth-round tie against Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

After all, tonight sees the deadline for the Welsh rebels, Cardiff and Swansea, to pay the pounds 150,000 fines the Welsh Rugby Union have imposed on the two clubs for playing a season of unofficial friendlies against the top English clubs.

The ultimate sanction could see both clubs expelled from the WRU. In the interim period, between now and the summer AGM of the Union when that action might be taken, there is an option for the Union to kick either club out of the Cup.

A decision on that will be made by the WRU general committee on 11 March. In the meantime, however, Cardiff will reflect on a thoroughly inept performance in beating the Welsh Premier Division's bottom club.

For long periods of this mistake-ridden tie played in awful conditions, Cardiff looked anything but a side who feel they would be better suited playing in the hustle and bustle of the Allied Dunbar Premiership One.

Although they scored the first of their three tries after just three minutes, Simon Hill latching on to a pass from Gareth Thomas, Aberavon led at the interval thanks to a brace of penalties from their fly-half Cerith Rees.

The 19-year-old product of the rugby academy at Llandovery College looks a decent find and certainly edged his battle with Paul Burke, Cardiff's former Ireland stand-off. Burke's penalty on 50 minutes was cancelled out by Rees, but Hill popped up on the narrow side to score his second and edge the visitors in front once again.

Rees narrowed the gap with his fourth penalty, but on his return from an enforced break through injury, Thomas galloped all of 50 metres to seal a place in the last eight. Well, at least that is the plan.

Aberavon: N Stork; D Griffiths, P Roberts, R Lewis, P Jones; C Rees, A Jacobs; L Howell, J Hughes (capt), C Noon, M Evans, P Clapham, D Neill (C Kinsey, 67), H Merrett, R Morris.

Cardiff: M Rayer (capt); S Hill, G Thomas, L Davies (M Wintle, 31), L Botham; P Burke, R Jones; A Lewis (S John, 63), P Young, L Mustoe, S Moore, D Jones (J Tait, 55), G Kacala, J Ringer (O Williams, 60), E Lewis.

Referee: D Bevan (Clydach).