Thomas let loose

Rugby Union: Swansea 49 Cardiff 23
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The Independent Online
It all starts in the front row and once Cardiff were unable to field their top props who had the pox, the modest scrum version that is, Cardiff knew they were against the collar. And so it proved, as the Swansea pack attacked them in the scrum and proceeded to outplay them in both the rucks and the loose.

This allowed the talent of Arwel Thomas to flower and delight the home crowd with his deft handling touches, teasing kicks and thoughtful play. However, the real Swansea heroes were in the pack where Paul Arnold had a fine game together with Stuart Davies, Colin Charvis and Alan Reynolds.

Cardiff had few opportunities in the first half as Swansea took the game by the scruff and scored two tries in the first 30 minutes, the first by Stuart Davies converted by Thomas. Another searing Swansea attack brought a penalty try when Thomas was high-tackled with an elbow and he proceeded to convert. Then came a fine piece of opportunist play by Nigel Walker who came in from the wing and tore open the Swansea defence to allow Jonathan Davies to bring his vast experience into play to quickly feed Simon Hill, who scored to bring Cardiff back into the game.

Thomas then kicked a splendid penalty but this was cancelled out by a Jonathan Davies penalty which made it 17-10 to Swansea at half-time. However, at the turnaround Jonathan Davies, who had developed a groin strain, was replaced by Lee Jarvis who quickly made his presence felt with a penalty goal.

Swansea showed their power to make three huge drives by Arnold, Charvis and finally Stuart Davies, who scored his second. Thomas then dropped a goal. A second try for Hill followed, but from here on Swansea were in the driving seat. Another try from David Weatherley, a dropped goal by Andrew Booth, a Mark Taylor try and although Robert Howley finally scored a try he had long promised, Swansea had the last word with a pushover try by Stuart Davies to complete his hat-trick and give Swansea a bonus point.

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.

Cardiff: J Thomas; N Walker, M Hall, L Davies, S Hill; J Davies (L Jarvis, h-t), R Howley; J Davey, J Humphreys, P Booth, L Jones, D Jones, M Bennett, H Taylor (capt), O Williams.

Referee: C Thomas (WRU).