Rugby Union: Vale fail the test

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The Independent Online
SCOTT QUINNELL made a winning return to Stradey Park after a four- year absence as Llanelli clocked up 15 second-half points without reply to beat Pontypridd 24-16 and knock their opponents off the top of the Welsh Premier Division.

But while the Wales No 8, back with the Scarlets after spells with Richmond and the rugby league club Wigan, attracted much of the attention, the debut of another recent arrival, Byron Hayward, proved decisive. The former Ebbw Vale fly-half made a mess of an early penalty attempt but then found the target eight times to accumulate all his side's points.

Kevin Morgan claimed a first-half try for Pontypridd which Neil Jenkins, who also landed three penalties, converted. But after changing ends 16- 9 in front, it was all downhill for the visitors whose back-row forward Dale McIntosh was red-carded in injury time by Derek Bevan for a late tackle.

Ebbw Vale, conquerors of Llanelli three days earlier, came down to earth when they were upset 23-13 at Bridgend. The home side, who had won only twice previously in the league this season, in effect pulled clear of the relegation zone with early tries from Sam Greenaway and Steve Winn. Vale's second-half touchdowns came from Gareth Green and Richie Collins.

Roger Bidgood, the 34-year-old former Wales centre, scored a crucial late try which proved decisive for Caerphilly in their 33-22 home win over Neath, whose left wing Darren Case finished a loser despite scoring all of his side's points.

Another specialist kicker, Shaun Connor, set up a 36-16 victory for Newport at Rodney Parade over the bottom club Aberavon (the Wizards' eighth defeat in eight matches) by scoring 12 points after coming on as a second-half replacement.

Bristol cruised into the second round of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup when their 35-24 victory at Wakefield gave them a 101-41 aggregate success over two legs. Jonathan Evans scored two of the visitors' five tries. Waterloo joined them in round two with a 79-35 aggregate win over Fylde, running in seven tries during yesterday's 45-20 victory at Blundellsands. Rotherham beat their Yorkshire rivals Leeds for the first time in three meetings this season, but still went out of the competition on aggregate by 37-32. Leeds led 10-0 before the home side bounced back to win 19- 16.

The Scottish Rugby Union have named their vice-president Harvey Wright as the interim chairman of their executive board following the resignation of Duncan Paterson. Shannon's bid for a fifth successive Irish league title began with a surprise 23-3 defeat at Ballymena. Last season, the Limerick club lost just once in 13 league outings.