Swansea fight back from the brink

Swansea 31

Begles 31

BRITISH-FRENCH relations were hardly enhanced the week after three players were dismissed at Stradey Park, as two of last season's Heineken Cup sides punched and kicked their way through this crucial Pool D European Conference match.

The fact that only one player, the Begles prop Olivier Sourgens, was dismissed by the Romanian referee Chiciu Niculae was remarkable enough. But the most mystifying thing of all was why Begles, by far the better footballing side, should continually attempt to out-muscle their opponents.

When they attempted to run the ball the Frenchmen were yards faster in thought and deed than their opponents. At times, Swansea looked like novices by comparison. By continuing the French trend of trying physically to intimidate and dominate their opponents Begles came badly unstuck as they were penalised 17 times to Swansea's three. Sourgens was dismissed when a Romanian touch-judge spotted a needless punch from behind on the Swansea flanker Alan Reynold.

The result means that Begles have to make up a 94-point difference on Swansea over the last weekend if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. A tough task, even though they host Ebbw Vale next weekend and Swansea have to travel to Bourgoin.

The Begles coaching staff were pointing the finger very firmly at the Romanian officials for not having won the game, but as they led 26-0 lead in the first quarter they should surely be asking questions of their players.

Given first use of the strong wind it took the French side less than a minute to open their account when a high kick by their scheming skipper Guy Accoceberry was caught on the full by his half-back partner Michael Carre a few yards out and he was driven over for the score.

The lock Andre Berthozat was next to cross, sprinting 20 metres after a break from the back of a line-out, and then wing Thomas Ossard scored after a kick and chase over 50 metres. No sooner had he touched down than eight forwards from the two sides finally emerged from one of the many schoolyard brawls on the French 22.

Worse was to follow for the home side when an attack broke down through a careless pass on the Begles 22 and the error was turned into a try at the other end by Accoceberry.

At that stage Swansea were nothing short of a rabble. They lacked direction and found it difficult to cope with the physical French forwards. But things changed quickly. Scott Gibbs muscled his way through from 25 metres out in the last move of the first half and then Arwel Thomas waltzed his way over for another try with the first move of the second half.

Thomas earlier kicked a penalty and his two conversions reduced the gap to nine points. Swansea kept plugging away and, finally, found some rhythm in their rucking game. It enabled Mark Taylor to cross nine minutes from time and allowed Gibbs the pleasure of rounding off the revival with his second score, which turned out to be the last move of the game.

Swansea: A Clement (A Palfrey, 72-73); A Harris, M Taylor, S Gibbs, Simon Davies; A Thomas, R Jones; C Loader (K Colclough, 61), G Jenkins (captain), C Anthony, M Evans (S Moore, 21-34), J Griffiths, P Moriarty, A Reynolds, Stuart Davies.

Begles: P Fauthoux; A Bouyssie, L Lafforgue, S Loubsens, R MacDonald; M Carre, G Accoceberry (captain); P Collazo, L Dehez, O Sourgens, A Berthozat, C Mougeot (P Farner, 67), S Conchy, M Barrague, Y Lemeur (F Garcia, 41).

Referee: C Niculae (Romania).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat