Rugby Union Round-up: Whites win as Titley shines

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The Independent Online
NEW rules, old rulers in Wales, where the dominant forces in last season's Heineken League prevailed on the first five-points-for-a-try weekend. Every First Division match except one, Neath's

11-9 triumph at Pontypridd, was won by the team who finished higher last year. But it was hardly a routine opening for the champions, Swansea, who lost skipper Stuart Davies before the kick-off then a further trio of internationals - Richard Webster, Kevin Hopkins and Aled Williams - during their clash with Newbridge. Little surprise that the All Whites trailed 13-5 at the interval - but equally little when they can afford to have players of Mark Titley's quality waiting on the bench - that they hit back to win 17-13 with tries from Bleddyn Taylor and Simon and Ian Davies.

LLANELLI and Bridgend adapted quickest to the new rules. Llanelli rubbed in their mastery of Pontypool with three first-quarter tries, two from Wayne Proctor, and followed with four more in a 44-20 waltz at once-impregnable Pontypool Park. Bridgend made short work of an unhappy lot of South Wales policemen in a 41-10 local derby victory at Brewery Field, with Glen Webbe's 60-yard dash the highlight of their seven scores.

NEWPORT took rather longer - 40 minutes to be exact - to make the transition. In a schizoid display against last season's backmarkers, Maesteg, they trailed 0-3 at the interval, then crossed seven times in the second half to run out 37-13 winners. Neath and Pontypridd never caught on at all, but Steve Bowling's try and Jeff Bird's late penalty were decisive as Neath continued where they left off in last season's late surge up the table. Llanharan, happy a year ago as they beat established senior opposition on their Second Division debut, were on the receiving end this time - losing 9-6 at promoted Narberth.