Thomas aims Swansea towards Europe

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The Independent Online

While most clubs are winding down and looking forward to a summer off, Swansea, after a disappointing season, are finally getting their act together - as they showed in front of a partisan crowd at Sardis Road last night. The All Whites earned their second win in five days over Pontypridd and moved into the vital fifth spot in the Welsh/Scottish League, a place that qualifies for next season's European Cup.

For their coach, John Plumtree, it has been a disappointing campaign. After being knocked out of the European Cup in the pool stages and not fighting for top spot on the domestic front, he will be more than happy with the way his side are finally coming to life.

Swansea controlled the game for long periods, with the mercurial Arwell Thomas controlling the show from fly-half and scoring 14 points with the boot. Pontypridd, on the other hand, are slipping badly and could see Swansea qualify for the lucrative European spot ahead of them if they do not start winning games.

Swansea could even afford to see two players banished to the sin-bin towards the end of the first-half with flanker Colin Charvis, acting skipper for the injured Scott Gibbs, and prop Ben Evans being shown the yellow card after two high tackles.

Charvis more than made amends by creating one try and scoring his side's second and he is rapidly becoming one of the best flankers in British rugby. His break after only eight minutes split the Ponty defence and his pass found the wing Richard Rees, who crashed over in the corner to give his side a lead they would not lose.

Thomas kicked four penalties and a conversion but even he was outscored by the Pontypridd full-back, Brett Davey, who secured all his side's points, including a try. Pontypridd could not match the firepower of Swansea's rejuvenated pack, with Garin Jenkins galvanising his troops and pushing the Ponty eight at will.

Swansea led 11-9 at the break but it was not a true reflection of their domination and Pontypridd spilled too many passes and made too many errors to put their game plan into action.

After the break it was more of the same with the excellent Thomas penning a hapless Pontypridd into their own half with some thrilling raking kicks to touch that broke the home side's resolve.

Swansea finally sealed the victory with 10 minutes to go after Jarvis got on the end of a neat behind the back pass by the scrum-half Rhodri Jones to score near the posts.

Thomas added the conversion and the win was secured and now the All Whites can look forward to the remaining three games in this league campaign and a Welsh cup final against Llanelli at the Millennium Stadium.

Pontypridd: Tries B Davey; Penalties B Davey 4. Swansea: Tries R Rees, C Charvis; Conversion A Thomas. Penalties A Thomas 4.

Pontypridd: B Davey; G O Lewis, J Lewis, J Bryant, J Colderley; C Sweeney, P John (capt); N Tau, A Lamerton, S Cronk, W James, I Gough, N Lloyd, J Machacek, G P Lewis.

Swansea: K Morgan; R Rees, M Taylor, D Weatherley, S Payne; A Thomas, R Jones; D Morris, G Jenkins, B Evans, T Maullin, A Moore, D Thomas, T Moriarty, C Charvis (capt).

Referee: N Williams (Bryncoch).

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