Rugby Union: Jenkins makes difference

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The Independent Online
Pontypridd 15 Cardiff 10

VICTORY was bittersweet for the Pontypridd captain, Neil Jenkins, as he saw his side through to a third major title in three seasons as they scooped the Welsh Rugby Union Challenge Trophy final, but saw his international half-back partner Rob Howley carried from the field with in considerable discomfort a week before the Five Nations showdown with the French.

Jenkins landed five out of five penalties to clinch victory for the home side in a tense, scrappy, but always gripping affair. Howley was carried out of the fray after 50 minutes when he injured his ankle in making a try-saving tackle on his opposite number, Paul John.

Howley was ashen as he limped away from the ground after the game, although medical reports were more encouraging yesterday.

"After he made the tackle his foot went under the advertising board and it twisted his ankle. I would think he is going to be all right to face France, but we will have to wait and see," the WRU doctor, Roger Evans, said.

A jubilant Jenkins is now setting his sights a unique treble after lifting the much maligned Challenge Trophy. "This is the first trophy of the season and hopefully we can go on to win the two remaining ones that are up for grabs," Jenkins said.

They have to travel to face Premier Division strugglers Newport in the quarter-finals of the Swalec Cup on April 11 and have five games left in the Premier Division in which to catch the current leaders, Swansea.

Although Swansea lead the table by eight points, Pontypridd and Cardiff have a game in hand on them and both clubs have to meet them before the season ends.

Cardiff only have the league to aim for now after missing out on a much needed trophy and there is bound to be a lot of soul-searching at the Arms Park between now and the end of the season.

All Cardiff's points came from replacement stand-off Lee Jarvis. He crossed for a corner try three minutes after coming on and hammered over a touchline conversion and a 30 metre penalty.

But any thoughts he had of putting one over on his former team mates faded in the second half when he missed with two penalties. Instead he had to watch as Jenkins landed his fifth penalty to clinch the game.

Pontypridd: Penalties Jenkins 5. Cardiff: Try: Jarvis; Conversion Jarvis; Penalty Jarvis.

Pontypridd: A Barnard; G Wyatt, S Lewis, D James, D Manley; N Jenkins (captain), P John; A Griffiths, A Lamerton, M Griffiths, S Roy, S Bundy (G Prosser 59), G Lewis (M Lloyd 69), D McIntosh, M Williams.

Cardiff: C Morgan (J Thomas 50); G Thomas, L Davies, M Hall, S Hill; B Ross (L Jarvis 23), R Howley (J Hewlett 51); A Lewis (S John 69), J Humphreys (captain), L Mustoe, T Rees, J Tait (D Jones 66), G Kacala, E Lewis (S Williams 64), J Ringer (S Williams 23-33).

Referee: W D Bevan (Clydach).