Neath traveled to Sardis Road on Saturday afternoon to face Premiership champions, Pontypridd in the first league game of the season.
After a confident start for Neath, confusion in their defensive line out allow Ponty to get their first points on the board as Dan Godfrey crosses the line after an uncontested driving lineout. The try is successfully converted by Simon Humberstone, 7-0.
Further Ponty attacks are propelled by an organised Welsh All Blacks defence, as Ryan Evans, Alec Jenkins and Alex Humfrey dominate the defensive line putting in some great tackles but Ponty sustain possession and soon cross the line to double their points as Luke Crocker scores on the 13th minute. Conversion successful by Simon Humberstone, 14-0.
Neath set on adding points to the board, with some great carries from Lloyd Phillips and Jordan Collier forcing the pack forwards into the Ponty 10m. Welsh International, Dafydd Howells finds a gap in the Ponty defence, out pacing his opposition as he dives over the line scoring Neath’s first and only try. The try is converted successfully by James Thomas, 14-7.
At 36” Ponty manage to cross the line through a driving maul, scored by Jordan Sieniawski as Neath put in tackle after tackle in order to stop them in their tracks but unfortunately fail. 19-7.
Neath put in a fantastic effort with their defence with Gareth Thomas, Alec Jenkins and Ashley Evans holding Ponty back from many of scoring opportunities. However, on the 50th minute, Ponty dominate in the scrum along the Neath 5m allowing Aled Summerhill to cross the line. Conversion successful 28-7.
Neath seem defeated as minutes after, Aled Summerhill scores his second try, taking the score to 33-7.
After some lovely phases of play from Rhodri Cole and Dafydd Howells, Neath are awarded a penalty allowing Rhodri to kick for touch gaining field position. But Ponty diminish any hope of a Neath score increase as their defensive wall stays put.
Ponty centre, Garyn Smith charges down field providing Ponty with field position but Neath defence holds well as Ryan Evans and Dafydd Howells put in some great hits stopping Ponty in their tracks. Minutes later, Ponty manage to turn the ball over within a ruck allowing them to kick for touch, providing another opportunity for points. With the clock at full time, Ponty are now looking to finish off the game with a final try. Neath defence holds strong but Ponty manage to overlap allowing Rhys Shellard to find the gap, crossing the line to score Ponty’s sixth try. The conversion is missed 38-7.
Even though the game was lost, Neath fought hard as Ryan Evans makes a superb break from his own 22 to Ponty’s 22. Unfortunately his efforts were cut short as Neath were put into touch, drawing the match to a close. Full Time score 38-7
Neath captain, Tom James reflects on their loss against Ponty at Sardis Road.
“I think the boys fronted up well, the set piece broke down a little but we have come to the home ground of past champions and cup winners from last season. It was a tough match especially when the team were not at full strength.
We are now looking forward to Ebbw Vale next weekend at the Gnoll. We have a lot of boys that will be returning after injury so hopefully we can get our strongest team on the pitch next weekend. Ebbw Vale will be out to prove a point, newly promoted in to the Premiership and I’m sure they will be out looking to get one up on Neath at the Gnoll.
It was great to have players such as Dafydd Howells and Ashley Evans on the back line today, elusive players that are great additions. We were unfortunate today to not get them on their front foot and get them the space they needed. However, we have Lee Beach and Nicky Downs returning from injury soon, players of that calibre will provide players like Daf and Ash front football.“
|13th September 2014||2:30 pm||Principality Premiership||2014/15|