Rugby Union: Moon takes little for granted

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The Independent Online
RUPERT MOON will be a man on a double mission when he returns to the Welsh side against Spain here today. Top of his agenda will be to re-establish himself as the best scrum-half, while his other key task will be to erase the memory of leading Wales to defeat the last time they met the Spaniards.

That was in the World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield last year, when Wales fell 10-7 in a plate semi-final, but there seems little likelihood of a repeat upset. Not that Moon takes anything for granted.

'They gave us a nasty surprise in the sevens and it hurt,' Moon said. 'I promised myself I would never underestimate them or any other so-called second class rugby nation again.'

Moon is one of five changes from the team who ran in 16 tries in Tuesday's 102-11 victory over Portugal in Lisbon, reclaiming the scrum-half position he had made his own for the previous 10 internationals by ousting Robert Jones. 'I never felt completely secure as the No 1 choice and it seems to be back in the melting-pot again,' Moon said.

The only other change behind the scrum is at full-back, where the fit-again Tony Clement takes over from Mike Rayer. There are four changes in the pack, one of them positional. Phil Davies and Paul Arnold lock the scrum, while Mark Perego returns to open-side flanker. That means a switch across the back row for Emyr Lewis.

According to Ireland's coach, at least four places are still available for players hoping to face Australia in the forthcoming two-Test series. Gerry Murphy said yesterday that several could stake claims if they perform well against the powerful New South Wales in Sydney tomorrow.

WALES (v Spain, Madrid, today): A Clement (Swansea); I Evans (Llanelli, capt), M Hall (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli), N Walker (Cardiff); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon; R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), P Davies (Llanelli), P Arnold (Swansea), E Lewis, S Quinell, M Perego (Llanelli). Replacements: R Jones (Swansea), M Rayer, A Davies (Cardiff), R McBryde (Swansea), H Williams-Jones (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath).