Swansea outsmart big-spending Cardiff

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Swansea 49 Cardiff 23

It took Cardiff just 80 minutes of the new Welsh League season to discover money is not the sole answer to success in the new professional club game - good old-fashioned guts can still take you a long, long way, writes Robert Cole.

While Cardiff were the big spenders in the summer sales, and now have an annual pounds 750,000 wage bill, Swansea concentrated their minds on preparing for the vastly new era.

"We are not getting carried away, but that was not a bad start to our objective of proving ourselves the best professional club in Wales," said their coach Mike Ruddock.

"What we did in the summer was set higher standards, and tell players if they can't match up to them, they will fall by the wayside. We also spent, but the players under contract are aware we expect new levels of training and professionalism."

The All Whites responded by outfighting and out-thinking Cardiff in almost every area, displaying a far greater urgency in the rucks and mauls and turning the screw in the scrum, a triumph for guts over cash. And what will have made the rest sit up and take notice is that Swansea managed to do all that without their star signing, the centre Scott Gibbs, out with a broken finger.

In his absence the 21-year-old fly-half Arwel Thomas took the opportunity to take centre stage and produce the sort of display that had Ruddock declaring: "He is now better prepared for international rugby."

The scrum-half Booth, considered surplus to requirements by Cardiff in the summer, made his point to his old club with a display that included a drop goal and revelled playing at the heels of a rampant pack in which Stuart Davies snapped up a hat-trick of tries.

Swansea: Tries: Stuart Davies 3, D Weatherley, M Taylor, Penalty Try; Conversions: Thomas 5; Penalty: Thomas; Drop Goals: Thomas, Booth.

Cardiff: Tries: Hill 2, Howley; Conversion: J Davies; Penalties: J Davies, Jarvis.

Swansea: L Evans; A Harris, M Taylor, D Weatherley, Simon Davies; A Thomas, A Booth; C Loader, G Jenkins (capt), S Evans, M Evans, P Arnold, A Reynolds, Stuart Davies, C Charvis. Replacements: A Palfrey for Harris 76, G Colclough for Loader 20-23, H Bevan for Jenkins 22, K Colclough for S Evans 62.

Cardiff: J Thomas; N Walker, M Hall, L Davies, S Hill; J Davies (L Jarvis 40), R Howley; M Davey, J Humphreys (P Young 47), P Booth (K Thomas 55), L Jones (J Wakeford 81), D Jones, M Bennett, H Taylor (captain), O Williams. Replacements: L Jarvis for J Davies 40, P Young for Humphreys 47, K Thomas for Booth 55, J Wakeford for L Jones 81.

Referee: Clayton Thomas (Skewen).