Pontypridd returned to winning ways after six consecutive defeats with a convincing 38-8 victory over struggling Caerphilly in the Welsh/Scottish League Premier Division at Sardis Road yesterday.
Pontypridd, who start their European Shield campaign in Beziers next Saturday, owed their dominance to a fine hat-trick of tries from their powerful new Samoan wing Dominic Feaunati.
Feaunati opened the scoring within a few minutes of the start, dashing 40 metres to cross in the corner after a Luke Richards kick had been charged down on the halfway line. After 16 minutes, Ponty increased their lead with a second try from Feaunati after a midfield break by the centre Sonny Parker.
A couple of minutes after that, Ponty struck again. From a 30-metre break by Feaunati, the ball was whipped along the line for the full-back Gareth Wyatt to dive in at the corner for an excellent try. Wyatt then helped Ponty into an impregnable 26-0 interval lead with a slick drop-goal.
Duncan Bell and Feaunati completed the rout with second-half touchdowns and the home scoring was completed by two conversions and two penalties, one a massive 58-metre effort, by Ceri Sweeney. Caerphilly's consolation came in the form of a Richards penalty and a last-minute try by their centre Geraint Evans.
Llanelli's young fly-half Gareth Owen kicked 21 points as his side won for the fourth consecutive time at Neath. Owen, standing in for the Wales back Stephen Jones, -enjoyed a memorable day with the boot as the visitors staged a grandstand finish to claim a 41-26 victory. Two tries in the final three minutes enabled the Scarlets to join Newport and Glasgow at the top of the table on 12 points.
Neath made the better start with a try after only three minutes by the Wales hooker Barry Williams before Owen kicked three penalties to put the visitors 9-5 ahead. It was then the turn of Lee Jarvis to kick three penalties, the last after Owen had been shown the yellow card, as Neath reached half-time 14-9 ahead.
That advantage was short-lived. The Llanelli No 8, Dave Hodges, went over twice in the second-half and there were tries also for the skipper Leigh Davies and flanker Daffyd Jones as Llanelli took charge. But persistent infringements, which enabled Jarvis to land seven successful penalties in all, kept Neath in touch as late as the final 10 minutes.
With Worcester edging two points clear of Rotherham after the tense, top-of-the-table encounter at Sixways, the next six sides in National League One – Exeter, Bedford, London Welsh, Rugby, Birmingham/Solihull and Otley – all won.
The All Blacks' coach Wayne Smith, whose two-year contract expires at the end of the year, said yesterday he would apply for his own job. "I am going to put my name forward again and have my abilities judged alongside the other coaches who apply for the job," Smith said. "If I am not reappointed, the new coach will take over with my best wishes." The New Zealand RFU chairman Murray McCaw said an appointment would be made by the end of October. New Zealand have won five Tests this year but lost twice to Australia.
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