Rugby Union: Jones takes charge

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The Independent Online
Swansea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Cardiff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

SWANSEA outclassed Cardiff to reinforce the west Wales monopoly on Welsh rugby. They dispatched the outsiders from the east to set up a three-team race for the league title.

Their three tries were all full-blooded efforts. First, Robert Jones took an unorthodox penalty, emerging from the huddle of forwards to scythe through the defence, and their No 8, Ian Davies, backed up well to cross; then Jones set the backs free on an overlap for the winger Simon Davies to score; and finally Aled Williams jinked through a gap near the line to set up Scott Gibbs.

What might Alan Davies have learnt as he pondered his national team selection from his seat in the St Helen's stand? He would have seen the unfancied Swansea outside- half, Williams, outshine the Wales incumbent, Adrian Davies. He would also have seen Jones, the Swansea scrum-half, prove that his form remains good even though he is in the international wilderness.

The two Swansea men gave a lesson in half-back play: Jones took general charge and Williams kicked wisely and accurately for position and unleashed the backs at the first hint of exploitable space. Behind them Tony Clement ran elusively and hard from full- back, was solid in the tackle and skilful with the boot.

Poor Cardiff. They rebuild with a continual infusion of new players and assert at the start of each season that this year will be their year, yet they never quite deliver. The lesson may be that great teams are built painstakingly, not assembled overnight. Pride and passion cannot be imported. Swansea have both in full measure.

Swansea: Tries I Davies, S Davies, Gibbs; Conversions Williams 2; Penalty Williams. Cardiff: Penalties Davis 2.

Swansea: A Clement (capt); S Davies, S Gibbs, I Lewis, S Barclay; A Williams, R Jones; I Buckett, G Jenkins, R Shaw, P Arnold, R Moriarty, A Reynolds, I Davies, R Appleyard.

Cardiff: M Rayer; S Ford (C Laity, 72 min), S Hill, C John, N Walker; A Davies, R Howley; M Griffiths, J Humphries, P Sedgemoor, D Jones, T Rees, H Stone, H Taylor (capt), O Williams.

Referee: R Yeman (Taibach).