Rugby Union: Jenkins tips the balance

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The Independent Online
Pontypridd. . .35

Swansea . . . .12

SWANSEA, compelled to rise from their sick beds to play, may ultimately blame the flu bug for laying low their hopes of the Heineken title. But that would unfairly detract from a fiery Pontypridd side that afflicted them far more vigorously than any mere virus could have done.

Sardis Road, with the home club feverishly attacking the League leaders, must have seemed an infinitely less attractive place for Swansea's numerous flu victims than the hearth at home and a glass of Lemsip.

As it was, Pontypridd knocked Swansea thoroughly off the top of the table. The back row battered forward relentlessly while the centres ran straight and hard, pepping it up with the odd elusive jink.

The Wales outside-half Neil Jenkins linked and controlled with perfect poise. He switched direction astutely and played the line wisely, with many kicks that sent Swansea rolling backwards.

But above all, Pontypridd played like a solid, unified club side, relying on well-proven virtues: they tackled everything, got the ball first and kept it alive.

The pack set the pattern for victory, laying back tidy ball after half an hour of deadlock. Jenkins sent it wide with Swansea retreating in disarray. Their winger Jason Lewis had ample time to cross.

The other three tries came in a similar fashion, all from good, rugged forward graft. Flanker Denzil Earland kept the honours in the pack, but the last two were taken by the strong-running centre Steele Lewis and winger Darrell Hughes.

Swansea may yet regain their vigour as the squad returns to full health. But with Llanelli running up all but a century, they must fear a bout of Scarlet Fever will deprive them of the League title.

Pontypridd: M Back; J Lewis, C Jones, S Lewis, D Hughes; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, M Powell, J Scarlett, M Rowley, D Earland, G Owen, M Lloyd.

Swansea: T Clement; M Titley, J Ball, K Hopkins, S Davies; A Williams, Robert Jones; C Clarke, R McBride, K Colclough, P Arnold, R Moriarty, Robin Jones, R Webster, I Davies.

Referee: D Davies (Llanbradach).

Scores: Williams (drop-goal, 4 min, 0-3); Williams (pen, 16 min, 0-6); Jenkins (pen, 19 min, 3-6); J Lewis / Jenkins (con / try, 28 min, 10-6); Williams (pen, 30 min, 10-9); Jenkins (pen, 44 min, 13-9); Earland / Jenkins (con / try, 47 min, 20-9); Williams (pen, 53 min, 20-12); Jenkins (pen, 55 min, 23-12); S Lewis / Jenkins (con / try, 66 min, 30-12); Hughes (try, 83 min, 35-12).