Rugby Union: Skrela showtime

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Colomiers 35

Pontypridd 21

PONTYPRIDD DISPLAYED all the battling characteristics which have come to be associated with the club but it was not enough to prevent a second defeat in Pool D of the European Cup. Quarter-final qualification can still be achieved with the right results in Ponty's remaining matches against Glasgow and Treviso but this is a team struggling to refind the rude health of the last two seasons.

The Wales lock Ian Gough returned to the pack after a two-week absence in the wake of the punch by Mark Jones, but Ponty's predominantly youthful forwards need more time to mature. They also had the blow of seeing the full-back Kevin Morgan limp off with a hamstring injury in the second half, in his first appearance after a six-week lay-off with a broken thumb.

Morgan had played well up to that point and will be bitterly disappointed if his injury has returned the initiative to Mike Rayer or Shane Howarth in the battle for Wales' No 15 jersey.

As the last line of defence, Morgan certainly saw plenty of action. Colomiers had damaging pace at centre in the person of Sebastien Roque, who will link up with the French national squad on Monday. Ponty did themselves no favours, either, with line-out lapses which helped gift ten points to Colomiers in the first half and also put the visitors under unnecessary pressure in the second.

Ponty's best spell came after they had fallen 17-3 behind in the first quarter. They rallied with a try by the winger Dafydd James and a conversion and penalty from their skipper Neil Jenkins. But Colomiers had the last word before half-time with a penalty by the outside-half Laurent Labit, one of his six consecutive successes.

A 58-metre penalty by Jenkins was quickly replied to by Labit. Then Colomiers took a grip with two tries in eight minutes. The full-back David Skrela, son of the France coach Jean-Claude and built like him, came in on a diagonal run for the first try and played a big part in the second scored by Fabien Galthie. Morgan's replacement Simon Enoch went in at the left corner from a long cut-out pass by Jenkins, but too late to make a difference.

Colomiers: D Skrela; R Bastide (M Biboulet, 61), S Roque, M Carre, B Lhande; L Labit, F Galthie (captain); J-P Beyssen, M Dal Maso, R Nones (P Pages, 54), J-P Revallier, G Moro, B De Giusti, P Tabacco (P Pueyo, 65), S Peysson (P Magendie, 65).

Pontypridd: K Morgan (S Enoch, 68); G Wyatt, J Lewis, S Lewis, D James; N Jenkins (captain), P John (M Taylor, 79); M Griffiths (A Griffiths, 43-49), A Lamerton (M Thomas, 74), N Tau (A Griffiths, 74), I Gough, A Freeman (G Prosser, 63), M Lloyd, M Williams, G Lewis.

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland)

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