Swansea pack the punch

Pontypridd12 Swansea17
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SWANSEA finally exorcised the horror at their 70-point drubbing by the Springboks back in November by winning the Swalec Cup for the first time since 1978 yesterday. After trailing 7-0 at half-time and looking shaky, they staged a terrific recovery, in which their forwards, magnificently motivated in the line-outs by No8 Stuart Davies and man-of-the-match Paul Arnold, drove daggers into the underbelly of the Pontypridd forwards who could find no answers.

Both teams were desperate to win, Pontypridd because they have never won either of the two principal titles in Welsh rugby, and Swansea because they were anxious to make up for their poor finish in the league. Swansea also wanted to improve their Cup final record - five defeats in six appearances - and had an eye on any super league or European Cup situations that may arise next year.

Strangley, it was Neil Jenkins who cost Pontypridd dearly. He played beautifully in general play, fully justifying his award as Welsh Player of the Year, but he failed uncharacterisically to kick any of his four penalties, which normally would have been like shelling peas.

Swansea, building on the second-half performance of their forwards, always had the hand of the impeccable Robert Jones on the tiller and Aled Williams, the effective old-fashioned style stand-off, to create a try.

After a bright start, Pontypridd scored a try from a dreadful Swansea blunder midway through the first half. Williams had shovelled the ball to Roddy Boobyer who then attempted to flick an overhead pass without looking into the midfield. David Manley nipped in to intercept and score under the post for Jenkins to convert and make it 7-0 at half time with Swansea looking worried.

After the interval, Swansea pulled themselves together with a penalty goal by Williams and they were back in the game. Then, for a while, the match died on its feet with an inordinate number of line-outs and shapeless mauls. But then came another tremendous plunge by Stuart Davies and the ball was passed from Jones to Williams to Robert Appleyard who fought his way under the post. Williams converted the try.

It was Davies again who made another drive, carried on by Garin Jenkins, and Davies retrieved possession to plunge over for a try. Williams converted and the game was won. Pontypridd never gave up and with a minute to go had the last word with a try in the corner by Manley.

It had, though, been a far from open game with little adventure - always close-run, a rugged battle between two tough packs with Swansea finally coming out on top.

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

Swansea: A Clement (capt); A Harris, R Boobyer, D Weatherley, S Davies; A Williams, R Jones; C Loader, G Jenkins, K Colclough, P Arnold, A Moore, A Reynolds, S Davies, R Appleyard

Referee: C Thomas ( Neath WRU).