Rugby Union: Police ask Cardiff difficult questions

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Cardiff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

South Wales Police . . . . . . . . . . . .13

HAVING underachieved for more years than they care to remember, Cardiff need the credibility of some - any - silverware on their glittering sideboard. As the Welsh league is once again beyond them, they must rely on the cup which they last won as long ago as 1987.

Their progress into the Swalec semi-finals had many more alarms than they would have liked and certainly than they expected. It will be still more uncomfortable when they face Pontypridd, with whom they were yesterday drawn. Llanelli, going for the cup for a fourth consecutive season, will meet Maesteg of the Second Division in the other semi.

Even a couple of good first-half tries in last night's muddy and thoroughly mediocre quarter-final at the Arms Park could not expunge the impression of a side well short of the fluency their many illustrious names should surely produce.

It was hard to believe that they are unbeaten in league and cup for four months - not to begin with, anyway, when the Police were gaining an early lead with the first of Justin Price's penalties. Nor later on, either, because for more than an hour the Police refused to let Cardiff exploit their superiority.

They were enterprising in their willingness to attack from deep positions and fell beyond range only when Cardiff finally added a pushover try 12 minutes from the end.

Still, the main thing is simply to win cup-ties and in this at least Cardiff were in no danger even though the Police did pull a try back at the death. Colin Laity had been put away for Cardiff's first try when Andy Moore tapped a penalty that the Police were probably expecting to be kicked for goal.

The second went to Owain Thomas after back row and half- backs had sucked in the Police

defence. Much, much later Moore scored his pushover but even then the Police declined to submit and Ian Hemburrow sauntered through an over-relaxed defence for a try that he deserved. Pontypridd will not be quaking in their boots.

Cardiff: Tries Laity, Thomas, Moore; Conversion Davies; Penalty: Davies. South Wales Police: Try Hemburrow; Conversion Price; Penalties Price 2.

Cardiff: M Rayer; S Ford, M Hall (capt), C Laity, O Thomas; A Davies, A Moore; M Griffiths, J Humphreys, L Mustoe, J Wakeford, D Jones, H Taylor, O Williams, M Bennett.

South Wales Police: P Phillips; C Higgs, J Apsee (capt), M Cox, D Thomas; J Price, S Evans; A Phillips (C Hillman, 31), M Poole, G Bundock, S Legge, W Matthews (S Rees 40-43), A Price, I Hemburrow, A Davies.

Referee: H Lewis (Pontypridd).

SWALEC CUP Semi-finals: Llanelli v Maesteg; Cardiff v Pontypridd. (To be played at neutral venues on 16 April.)

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