Thomas hits all the right notes

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The Independent Online
Swansea 82 Newport 18

The band is in danger of running out of puff at St Helen's this season. Forced to strike up in celebration of every home try, they were called on five times in the opening weekend victory over Cardiff and no fewer than a dozen times last night.

Swansea are obviously very determined to make up for their fall from grace and honours last season and they have set a breakneck pace in leading the WRU National League First Division this season.

There was one bonus point to savour in the telling victory over Cardiff, and two more to boost their tally in this record romp.

The home tally did not quite eclipse Swansea's best in a First Division match, but it did outstrip Newport's worst - 79-10 against Llanelli in 1992.

But more than anything else it exposed the ever-increasing gulf between the haves and have-nots in Welsh rugby. Newport are left to reflect on an often glorious past, but at this rate they will never make up any ground on the top four or five teams in Wales, never mind on a broader front.

The romp was started by the man who looks like rejuvenating the Swansea side this season: Arwel Thomas. Brought back from Bristol to add a new dimension to the Swansea side, he has sparked new life and vision into the all whites with his mazy runs, surprising speed off the mark, and immaculate kicking.

Thomas, obviously throwing down the gauntlet to the incumbent Welsh outside half, Neil Jenkins, scored two of the dozen home tries and helped himself to a match tally of 28 points before heading for the showers five minutes early.

The crowd were not going to let him get away without showing their appreciation, and he left to a rapturous, standing ovation. Jenkins beware, Welsh selectors take note.

There were only three home tries in the opening half as Newport at least managed to keep the score down to 25-6. Colin Charvis' flamboyant dive to score on the stroke of half time was the sign of things to come. In the second half nine tries flowed, with the former Wales centre Mark Taylor getting two in the space of a minute and the wing Adam Palfrey also grabbing two.

Fellow wing Simon Davies got a try in each half to become only the fourth player to reach 50 league tries.

Swansea: Tries: Simon Davies 2, Thomas 2, Taylor 2, Palfrey 2, Booth, Charvis, Weatherley, Stuart Davies. Conversions: Thomas 6, Williams 2. Penalties: Thomas 2.

Newport: Tries: Harvey, Lloyd. Conversion: Connor. Penalties: Connor 2.

Swansea: L Evans; A Palfrey, D Weatherley, M Taylor, Simon Davies; A Thomas, A Booth; C Loader, H Bevan, S Evans, P Arnold, M Evans, A Reynolds, C Charvis, Stuart Davies (capt). Replacements: R Jones for Booth,75; A Williams for Thomas 75; D Niblo for Reynolds, 79.

Newport: Simon Davies; S Reed, L Jones, M Llewellyn, D Smith; S Connor, N Lloyd (capt); R Snow, I Jones, S Cronk, D Evans, L Harvey, I Gough, R Parks, M Workman. Replacements: B Atkins for Gough, 60; M Cox for L Jones 66; A Gregory for Harvey, 79.

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff).

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