Rugby Union: Ponty's case for a Big Five

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The Independent Online
Pontypridd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

Neath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

TALK of an Anglo-Welsh Super League or Cup competition containing only Swansea, Llanelli, Neath and Cardiff from Wales has rightly angered Pontypridd of late. This win proved they have strong claims to be included with the self-styled elite.

Three points out of a possible four against hitherto unbeaten Neath amply demonstrated their worth, and they have now recorded victories over all four sides ahead of them in the First Division

table in three and a half seasons of Heineken League rugby. In fact, they can boast eight wins and three draws in 29 matches to date against the 'Big Four'. If they beat Cardiff on Wednesday, they could confidently make out a case for expanding Welsh rugby's hierarchy to a 'Big Five'.

Pontypridd managed to halt Neath, unlike Llanelli, the reigning champions, the previous weekend. In Greg Prosser and Mark Rowley, the home side had line-out men who were more than a match for Neath's vaunted Llewellyn brothers, and they never allowed the visitors' rolling maul to gather momentum.

The return of Dale McIntosh, the New Zealand-born Scotland A No 8, to the back row was another key to their stunning success. McIntosh put in some superb tackles and inspired the Ponty pack in all phases. In addition, they had Neil Jenkins' usual hat-full of points, 17 on this occasion, and their own Neath destroyer,

David Manley. The right wing took his tally of tries against Neath to five this season with two superb first-half efforts, one of which he had to run 55 metres to score. More of the same at Cardiff could open up the title race even further.

Pontypridd: Tries Manley 2; Conversion Jenkins; Penalties Jenkins 5. 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, S Crandon, H Woodland, R Rees; M McCarthy, Rhodri Jones; A Bevan, A Thomas, J Davies, Glyn Llewellyn, Gareth Llewellyn (capt), Robin Jones, S Williams, A Varney.

Referee: C Thomas (Swansea).