Rugby Union: Jones leaves his mark

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Swansea. . . 17

Pontypridd. . 6

SWANSEA, who now only need one point from their remaining two games against Aberavon and Cardiff to win the Heineken League title, yesterday breathed a sigh of relief when they beat their closest rivals.

Nobody has caused Swansea more grief than the developing side from the Rhondda Valley, who not only knocked them out of the Cup but have pursued them relentlessly in the League.

Swansea, however, have played extremely well recently and this game was no exception. Their forwards, particularly the evergreen Richard Moriarty, together with Paul Arnold, Stuart Davies and Gareth Jenkins firing on all cylinders, took control of the forward play, leaving the man who makes Swansea tick, Robert Jones, to plan the strategy.

No one could take Pontypridd lightly these days and even if Neil Jenkins is not fit to play against Cardiff in the Cup semi-final next week, they still have a very useful pack of forwards with Dale McIntosh, Greg Prosser and Mark Rowley. However, on this occasion they had to take second place to the Swansea pack.

Swansea chose to play into the driving rain and wind, obviously intent on keeping the score down in the first period by grinding down the Pontypridd pack. Tony Clement marked every high kick by Neil Jenkins which came into the 22.

Swansea even managed to snatch the lead when Paul John's clearance kick from the scrum on his own line was charged down by Phil Withers who scored. Neil Jenkins inevitably responded with two penalties, but a pushover try after McIntosh had left the field for treatment gave Swansea a 10-6 lead at half-time.

However, after 34 minutes Neil Jenkins had left the field with a pulled hamstring which makes him a doubtful starter for next Saturday's Cup semi- final.

In the second half the Swansea forwards were in control and from a ruck on the line Robert Jones, playing better than ever, scored a try and Withers converted.

Swansea Tries: Withers, Stuart Davies, R Jones. Conversion: Withers. Pontypridd: Penalties: Jenkins 2.

Swansea: A Clement; S Davies, D Wetherley, S McIntosh, S Marshall; P Withers, R Jones; I Buckett, G Jenkins, R Shaw, P Arnold, R Moriarty, A Reynolds, S Davies (capt), R Appleyard.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley, J Lewis (R Davies, 74), S Lewis, O Robbins; N Jenkins (G Jones, 34), P John (capt); M Smith, N Meek, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, D McIntosh, P Thomas.

Referee: R Yemen (WRU).