Category: Neath Rugby News

RELEGATION BATTLE REACHES CLIMAX

Bridgend’s fine 34-31 win at Pontypridd means that Bedwas will be joining Cross Keys, Bargoed and Neath in the Championship next season.

Llanelli will now contest a play-off with Championship champions Pontypool on Friday to determine the final place.

FORMER PLAYERS’ DINNER – A ROARING SUCCESS

Neath Former Players held their Annual Dinner at The Gnoll clubhouse on Friday evening – and it turned out to be a roaring success with a rugby league tint.

Having enjoyed a superb 4-course meal prepared by Neath’s new catering team, a packed audience listened appreciatively as FP’s chairman Martyn Morris took command, welcoming everyone including Gnoll favourite Dave Morris MBE.

WRU President Dennis Gethin, a former Neath full back, made a short address before principal guest, ex-Wales rugby league legend Jim Mills took centre stage.

He regaled the gathering with a colourful review of his long playing career and guests enjoyed hearing of his occasional brushes with authority.

Well over half the audience were Former Players including captains Ron Waldron who is President of the FP’s, Glyn Shaw, Peter Davies, Stuart Evans, Paul Thorburn, Kevin Phillips, Geraint Evans and Steve Martin.

Guest of Honour for the evening was another rugby league man, possibly that sport’s greatest player ever, Billy Boston who played for Neath in 1950 before embarking upon his career up north.

The consensus of opinion was that it was one of the best FP’s functions and, despite the difficulties of the past season, the firm message was that Neath will be back.

CAPTAIN BRAMWELL RE-SIGNS FOR NEATH RFC


Photo courtesy of Len Kowalski @neathtog

The season may only have ended on Wednesday evening at the Arms Park but Neath RFC have wasted no time in announcing the first step of the Club’s on-field rebuild with the news that club captain Aaron Bramwell has signed up for the 2019/20 season.

Aaron took over the captaincy last November when a host of players fled the Club and he has been a mainstay this season when he has raised his appearance tally beyond the 150 mark.

Aaron has played a huge role in keeping the team together and attracting new players to the club and, as a Neath boy through and through, now living in the Cimla area of the town, Aaron’s love for the Club is evident and he is a key player in the side.

Commenting on his re-signing Aaron said, “It is a huge privilege to have re-signed with Neath RFC even though we will be dropping down to the Championship next season.

“There are exciting times ahead with what is going on behind the scenes at Neath RFC with people working extremely hard to take the club back to the top.

“We’ve got one of the best coaches around in Patrick Horgan whose record speaks for itself, along with another Neath man in Andrew Howell as assistant coach who will no doubt turn the club around in the coming seasons.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the club and supporters and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead in getting the club promoted back to the Premiership.

“We must give the whole town what it needs : a strong Neath RFC.

“The club is the heartbeat of the town and community and we want to get back to competing at the very top of the game as soon as possible although we are well aware of how difficult that is going to be given the strength of the other clubs who will be in the Division and we will not under-estimate them.”

A HEARTFELT THANK YOU

Last night, Neath completed the Premiership season at the Cardiff Arms Park.

Thanks to the efforts of the “diehards” – players, coaches, back-up staff, volunteers, supporters, sponsors and many others – the Welsh All Blacks have pulled through.

I shall not mention any names because you know who you are – and besides, any omission might cause offence !

But a huge thank-you goes out to everyone who has helped in any small way – and will continue to help into the future.

Thank-you too to the local rugby community and all the many Clubs, near and far, who helped out by permitting players to us – some on a regular basis.

An awful lot of work has gone on – and is going on – to ensure that Neath rugby followers can now look forward to a brighter future.

Please keep in touch as it is going to be a very busy summer !

MP

MATCH REPORT: CARDIFF 74 NEATH 7 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 8th, 2019

CARDIFF 74 NEATH 7

It’s over ! At just before 9 o’clock on Wednesday evening, referee Ben Breakspear blew the final whistle to call time on Neath’s most inauspicious campaign ever.

The Blacks’ troubles have been well documented and the warning from history is that it must never happen again. Somehow, the team has held up but there was a distinct end-of-season feel to this game.

With 15 players in the 23 on permit, Neath were never in with a chance against Cardiff who are the Premiership’s form side at the moment and put the small matter of 75 points on Ebbw Vale the previous Saturday.

For all that, Neath shocked the meagre assembly at the Arms Park by scoring the opening try as winger James Roberts danced his way to the try-line for full back Callum Hall to convert.

Indeed, for much of the first-half the Blacks competed and scrummaged tidily throughout. But when Cardiff found the benefit of a couple of decisions to take a 33-7 lead into the interval there was only one result as injuries took their toll on a wilting Neath side.

Still, there was a fond farewell for forward Lee Evans as he departed early in the second half and a few hands went up to stake claims for next season.

Ifan James, Rhys Morgan and Glynneath captain James Parry earned praise as did scrum half Nathan Cornelius and, before injury, Dean Howell while Captain Bramwell (the capital is well deserved) as usual ran himself to a standstill but they could not stop the Cardiff tide.

The travelling Neath supporters, loyal to the end, cheered the team off and the XV reciprocated. There is a unique bond between the Neath team and its supporters and it was an apt ending because they all know and appreciate the efforts which have gone into preserving the Club.

Perhaps those efforts are best illustrated by some random facts : 130 players appeared for Neath in 2018/19, over 300 permit applications were processed, the average number of permit-players per game since November was 13 (and would have been higher had not a few inspired signings taken place in January), 33 props appeared and 11 scrum-halves.

Although often out-gunned, all have played with spirit – and are a credit to their home clubs to whom Neath have been most grateful.

Most of the players who have remained loyal to the cause and stuck in there when the going got tough will be back in July for pre-season and their numbers will be swelled by some key signings … Neath can now look only forward and the hard work continues for the All Black Volunteers who are sparing nothing as they re-establish affairs.

NEATH – Callum Hall; James Roberts, Dean Howell (Will Holley, Matt Billett), Aaron Bramwell (captain), Geraint Roberts; Jordan Rees, Nathan Cornelius (Zach Bartlett); Ifan James, Connah Vaughan (Sion Crocker), Liam Tobias (Haydn Manorek); Rhys Morgan, Lee Evans (Jake Blackmore); Gareth Jones (Jon Hill), Leon Ward (Steve John), James Parry

MATCH PREVIEW

Neath’s most inglorious season ever will come to an end on Wednesday evening when they play Cardiff at the Arms Park on Wednesday evening (kick off 7.15pm).

Behind the scrum, Geraint Roberts and Will Holley return with Abercrave scrum-half Nathan Cornelius drafted in for a second time. Up front, Steve John, Liam Tobias, Haydn Manorek, Rhys Morgan and Jacob Blackmore return alongside Glynneath captain James Parry and Newcastle Emlyn’s Jon Hill.

The Neath team will be announced before kick off and will be chosen from the following :-

Neath v Cardiff (Away)
Callum Hall; Matt Billett, Geraint Roberts, James Roberts, Will Holley, Dean Howell, Aaron Bramwell (captain), Jordan Rees, Nathan Cornelius, Zach Bartlett, Gareth Jones, Ifan James, Steve John, Sion Crocker, Connah Vaughan, Haydn Manorek, Liam Tobias; Ioan Jones, Rhys Morgan, Lee Evans, Leon Ward, Jacob Blackmore, James Parry, Jon Hill

Final 2018/19 Action at The Gnoll

The last rugby action of the 2018/19 season at The Gnoll will be on Sunday, May 12 when we host the various Ospreys Cup Finals :-

Under-12’s 11.00am Bridgend Sports v Valley Ravens
Under-13’s 12.15pm Tonmawr v Tondu
Under-14’s 1.30pm Maesteg Celtic v Tondu

All supporters welcome (Admission £3 Adults, U-16’s FREE)

MATCH REPORT: LLANELLI 57 NEATH 13 – SATURDAY, MAY 4th, 2019


LLANELLI 57 NEATH 13

As the scoreline suggests, Llanelli ran out comfortable winners at Parc-y-Scarlets but not for the first time the stark headline does not reflect that Neath again went down fighting and showed much of the spirit they will need next season.

The home side, reinforced in recent weeks by several Scarlets, achieved the maximum points they needed to help prevent them joining Neath’s descent and they had too many big guns for Neath’s determined scrappers.

The Blacks simply don’t have the team organisation at the moment but, with improved cohesion, things might have been a whole lot closer. Half a dozen line-out positions on the Llanelli line failed due to the unfamiliarity amongst the forwards.

Indeed, lack of familiarity was a problem for the Blacks as scrum-half Nicky Griffiths did his utmost to carve out a few openings which – again with greater back-up from support runners – might have produced more.

Throw in a couple of silly errors and there could only be one result and Llanelli were too strong with Scarlets flanker Dan Davis setting a rousing example. Fast to the breakdown, committed to the tackle and rugby-intelligent, Davis is the real deal and should be playing at regional level.

He scored one of Llanelli’s nine tries, the others coming from skipper Jason Lewis (2), No.8 Richard Rees, lock Chris Long, the Australian-Scarlet Ed Kennedy, Ryan Davies, a final intercept by hooker Greg George.

Outside half Ioan Hughes converted five but did not have a chance to convert the penalty try which interspersed two Callum Hall penalties at the start of the game.

Neath often threatened but lacked the control;  those attacking line-outs prevented better and they lacked the incisiveness to make it count so had to be content with a sixth try of the season for skipper Aaron Bramwell, Hall converting, off a Nicky Griffiths tap.

Still, as has been the case in nearly every game since the “Troubles”, there was commendable effort and endeavour from the Neath lads whose time will come again as this type of effort, if produced consistently, will not go unrewarded.

Llanelli, suffering their own domestic upheaval, meanwhile cannot now be relegated automatically; they may yet, however, face a play-off against Pontypool but they could also be safe.

It all hinges on Bridgend’s game at Pontypridd on Saturday – if Bridgend get 3 points or more, Llanelli will enter the play-off with Bedwas relegated 2 points; if Bridgend get 2 points, they will face the play-off with Bedwas relegated; if, however, Bridgend get 1 point or less, they will be relegated and Bedwas will take on the play-off.

NEATH – Callum Hall; James Roberts (Nathan Cornelius), Aaron Bramwell (captain), Dean Howell, Matt Billett (Mark Harvey); Jordan Rees, Nicky Griffiths (Nathan Griffiths); Ifan James (Tyla Murvia), Sion Crocker, Gareth Hall (Keiran Griifths); Ioan Jones (Jon Barley), Rhys Thomas; Lee Evans, Leon Ward (Kiaran Mackey), Travis Huntley

MATCH PREVIEW

Neath visit Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm) and as usual are much-changed.

In a behind the scrum shuffle, Callum Hall moves to full back with skipper Aaron Bramwell going to centre and Dean Howell (Seven Sisters) and Matt Billett (Skewen) coming in on permit. Jordan Rees and Nicky Griffiths are re-united at half.

Up front, Ifan James, Sion Crocker and Gareth Hall (Glynneath) comprise an all-change front rank with Rhys Thomas and Ioan Jones paired behind them while Leon Ward returns to the back row.

Neath v Llanelli (Away)
15 Callum Hall; 14 James Roberts, 13 Aaron Bramwell (captain), 12 Dean Howell, 11 Matt Billett; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Nicky Griffiths; 1 Ifan James, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Gareth Hall; 4 Ioan Jones, 5 Rhys Thomas; 6 Lee Evans, 8 Leon Ward, 7 Travis Huntley

Replacements – 16 Keiran Griffiths, 17 Connah Vaughan, 18 Tyla Murvai, 19 Jon Barley, 20 Kiaran Mackey, 21 Nathan Griffiths, 22 Nathan Cornelius, 23 Mark Harvey

LLANELLI v NEATH: INFORMATION FOR SUPPORTERS (SATURDAY 4th May 2019)

Supporters please note that due to the Scarlets end of season dinner in The Quinnell Lounge the Lolfe Stradey ( formerly the Heart and Soul Bar ) on the ground floor of the South stand is to be used as the Llanelli RFC clubhouse for the Neath game and will be open to general public from 12pm

Tickets ( cash only please )will be sold from the foyer area of the Lolfe Strade Bar. Prices are £13 full and £9 if 60 and over. Under 18’s are free. Parking in the Stadium Bowl is also free .

Supporters can access their seats from the side door in the Bar to level 1 concourse area

The Stadium bar in the concourse alcove will also be open during the game on level 1 for the purchase of refreshments from 1pm

Goods in lift will be accessible for any disabled supporters. Please get there early to ensure you get into the game on time.

NEATH RFC TOWELS AVAILABLE TO ORDER

Beach ‘Bully’ Ready

Order your  @NeathRugby @myoddballs towel today!

Just £15 each with a percentage of each towel sale going back into the club.
The more ordered the more goes back into supporting the club.

Contact  @LongLostWeasley
on Twitter or mark.davies715@hotmail.com via email to order.
You can also contact Mark on Telephone number: 07496 308147
Closing date for orders will be Saturday 4th May 2019.