Rugby Union: Rayer lights dour night

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The Independent Online
Wales B. . . . . . 21

North of England. .13

MIKE RAYER, the Cardiff full- back trying to break from the shadow of Tony Clement, stamped his class on an otherwise dour game as he sparked a late Welsh revival at Pontypool Park.

Rayer was the one home player to rise above the mediocre and it was his try, the second in a three- minute burst, that ensured victory for the Welsh second string.

With 10 players who had toured Namibia during the summer, the North dominated the early exchanges through superior team work as the Welsh struggled to come to terms with each other.

The Wasps flanker Matt Greenwood controlled the loose ball and the home pack was embarrassingly shunted back at a close-range scrum as all the early initiative and invention came from the visitors.

With bigger fish to fry next month, the Springboks for the North and the Wallabies for the Welsh, the game had an experimental air, yet little of the honest endeavour bore fruit.

First blood went to the North via a 10th-minute penalty from Paul Grayson and it was a further 23 minutes before his opposite number, Neil Jenkins, levelled the scores from in front of the posts.

In between, the North's Spencer Bromley and Simon Davies had an intriguing wings' duel. Davies had just enough speed to turn and gather a cunningly placed grub- kick from Kevin Simms, and moments later Bromley had sufficient strength in the tackle to haul Davies down 10 metres short.

There was a further exchange of penalties between Jenkins and Grayson shortly after the interval before, in the closing quarter, passes finally began to flow and stick in Welsh hands as the home pack began to deliver the ball more readily. Jenkins regained the lead with his third penalty midway through the second half and then Simon Davies set up a corner try for his fellow wing Wayne Proctor.

Jenkins failed to convert from the left touchline, but minutes later he was on target to add the extra points to Rayer's try. The North's consolation was a try from the West Hartlepool hooker Simon Mitchell, converted by Grayson.

Wales B: Tries Proctor, Rayer; Conversion Jenkins; Penalties Jenkins 3. North of England: Try Mitchell; Conversion Grayson; Penalties Grayson 2.

WALES B: M Rayer (Cardiff); S Davies (Swansea), N Boobyer (Llanelli), N Davies (Llanelli), W Proctor (Llanelli); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon (Llanelli, capt); R Evans (Llanelli), N Meek (Pontypool), J Davies (Neath), P Davies (Llanelli), S Roy (Cardiff), I Davies (Swansea), L Jones (Llanelli), S Legge (South Wales Police).

NORTH OF ENGLAND: J Mallinder (Sale); J Eagle (Leeds), B Barley (Wakefield), K Simms (Liverpool St Helens, capt), S Bromley (Rugby); P Grayson (Waterloo), D Scully (Wakefield); P Lancaster (West Hartlepool), S Mitchell (West Hartlepool), M Whitcombe (Sale), N Allott (Waterloo), K Westgarth (West Hartlepool), M Greenwood (Wasps), A Ireland (Waterloo), A MacFarlane (Sale). Replacement: S Gallagher (Orrell) for Ireland, 40.

Referee: C B Muir (Scotland).