Rugby Union: Manley mocks Neath's might

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The Independent Online
Pontypridd. . .27

Neath. . . . . . . .12

PONTYPRIDD have long disputed that there is a Big Four in Welsh rugby and victory over the hitherto unbeaten Neath proved their point.

If they can go on and beat another of Welsh rugby's self-appointed elite, Cardiff, at the Arms Park on Wednesday then the aristocratic cartel will have been well and truly broken.

Pontypridd are the team that everyone hates playing, especially at Sardis Road. They have a committed pack, fanatical support and, in Neil Jenkins, Welsh rugby's most proficient points scorer.

All three combined to devastating effect to humble Neath, unbeaten in their previous 10 games, and helped to throw open the chase for the Heineken League title.

In going one better than they had done against Neath at The Gnoll in the opening game of the season when they drew 22-22, Pontypridd struck a huge blow for the First Division.

Having hammered Llanelli at home last weekend, Neath looked like champions in the making. But Ponty struck gold at the line-out through Greg Prosser and Mark Rolley, contained Neath's rolling mauls and spread the ball wide with devastating effect on two occasions in the first half. Both moves ended with tries from the right-wing, David Manley, and the Neath defenders must have had thoughts of deja vu because Manley helped himself to a try hat-trick in their earlier meeting.

The wing's first score was his best and involved him beating three successive defenders on the inside before rounding off a 55-metre run with a try at the posts. His second came from a modest 30 metres out and by half-time the home side were 21-9 ahead.

On top of Manley, Pontypridd also had Jenkins and his trusty right boot wade in with another match-winning tally of 17 points as he outgunned Paul Thorburn in the kicking stakes.

Pontypridd: Tries: Manley 2; Penalties Jenkins 5; Conversions: Jenkins. Neath: Penalties: Thorburn 4.

Pontypridd: M Back; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, O Robbins; N Jenkins, P John; N Bezani (capt), N Meek, A Metcalf, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, D McIntosh, P Thomas.

Neath: P Thorburn; A Shaw, H Woodland, S Crandon, R Rees; M McCarthy, Rhodri Jones; A Bevan, A Thomas, J Davies, Glyn Llellewyn, Gareth Llellewyn (capt), Robin Jones, S Williams, A Varney.

Referee: C Thomas of Swansea