Rugby Union: Treorchy tamed by Bezani's pack

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The Independent Online
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THERE were a few among the 7,000 at Sardis Road who no doubt turned up expecting to see a bloodbath as two near, if not very dear, rivals met to determine the rugby pecking order in the area. They no doubt left feeling rather disappointed.

Not so the real fans. Despite the mud and the rain, they witnessed a Swalec Cup clash right out of the top drawer that confirmed Treorchy's huge potential but marked Pontypridd as a side ready to aspire to the top honours this season.

Treorchy arrived with a 14-match unbeaten run in the Second Division, eight former Pontypridd players and more Welsh caps in their ranks than their hosts - three to two. They also came with every intention of causing an upset.

Forget all the talk about the league being the only thing that mattered to them. This game was about local pride and a realistic assessment of their standing in Welsh rugby.

The former ensured there was never any quarter asked nor given, while the form book now shows that Treorchy have got what it takes to hold their own in the First Division.

Pontypridd's place among the upper echelons is still a question for debate, mainly because they are a game behind in their league programme. What this victory proved is they are going to be a major force in the cup.

What has helped turn Pontypridd into trophy contenders this season has been the huge development of their line-out play. Greg Prosser and Mark Rowley are now a match for any pair of jumpers in Wales, while the introduction of the unsung Mark Spiller in the back row has brought bonuses all round.

It was Nigel Bezani's pack who made sure there was never any likelihood of an upset with a push-over try in the first half and then two more from long-range rolling mauls. It was impressive stuff, especially when added to the superb

directional play of their half-backs, Paul John and Neil Jenkins.

The latter managed only five successful kicks out of eight for a match tally of 13 points, three down on his season's average, but once again looked every inch the player who should wear the Wales No 10 jersey this season. If that is to be the case then the selectors might well consider a few more of his team-mates.

Pontypridd: Tries Lloyd, Paul John, Prosser; Conversions Jenkins 2; Penalties: Jenkins 3. Treorchy: Penalties L Evans 2.

Pontypridd: C Cormack; D Manley, J Lewis, S Lewis, O Robbins; N Jenkins, Paul John; N Bezani (capt), Phil John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, M Rowley, M Spiller, M Lloyd, P Thomas (R Collins, 57).

Treorchy: L Evans; D Hughes, A Jones, K Orrell, P Thomas; D Evans, C Hamans; G Davies, C Greedy, P Knight (capt), S Evans, J Bunyan, D Jones, J Burnell, G Owen.

Referee: D Bevan (Clydach).