ABERAVON 36 NEATH 17
Once again, the Neath Loyalists worked wonders and, after late withdrawals, fielded :-
15 Callum Hall; 14 James Roberts, 13 Aaron Bramwell (captain), 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Alec Jenkins, 10 Lewis Humphreys, 9 Nathan Griffiths, 1 Jonny Gethin, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Scott Hoskins; 4 Aled Cockwell, 5 Scott Davies; 6 Craig Hill, 8 Thomas Jevons, 7 Alun Jones
Replacements : Connah Vaughan, Roy Jones, Gareth Wyn Lloyd, Ioan Jones, Ceri White, Dyfan Ceredig, Morgan Evans, Jon Bayliss
That selection embodied 17 permit players from 15 clubs but they were 23 absolute heroes – tackling themselves into the ground in a never say die performance.
In fact, the Blacks had the satisfaction of conjuring up the best try of the game by skipper Bramwell converted by Callum Hall – and there were other scores from replacement Ioan Jones which brought a broad smile to father Paul’s face and from speedy winger James Roberts who got in at the corner after Neath might have been awarded a penalty try.
Over very many years, Neath supporters have been lucky enough to have seen some wonderful Neath RFC performances including against the biggest and the best in the world – and the true Neath fighting spirit demonstrated by ALL was up there with the best.
Neath started well and might have taken the lead only for Roberts to be recalled for a foot in touch but Aberavon deserved their win through tries by Ieuan Davies (2), Francis Jones, Andrew Waite, Iwan Temlett and Jacob Blackmore with Christopher Banfield converting three.
What energy Neath displayed ! Thanks to everyone who helped and to the tremendous support from both touchlines.
Let sanity prevail in the New Year 2019 – CASTELL NEDD AM BYTH !
Neath have again pulled out all the stops to take the field at Aberavon on Boxing Day (kick off 2.30pm).
Neath rugby secretary Mike Price said, “The majority of our remaining players are now injured so it looks as if 17 of our 24 man squad will be on permit. In fact, we are thinking of asking them to wear club socks to aid identification like the Barbarians !
“Seriously though, it is an intolerable situation for the club to find itself subjected to after 147 years – 154 years for the purists – of rugby achievement. It cannot continue for much longer before the relevant authorities take action.
“Hats off to captain Aaron Bramwell and Pat Horgan for again bringing the side together and, if there is a silver lining to our current predicament, it is that it has thrown up one or two gems for the future of Neath RFC when we come through it.
“Our supporters, while totally behind the lads who are on the park, are heart-broken and understandably very, very angry. I just hope that followers of both clubs are appreciative of everyone’s efforts in what is a unique situation which no club should endure and we must hope that common sense prevails in 2019.”
Pending one permit the team will be :-
Neath v Aberavon (Away)
15 Callum Hall; 14 James Roberts, 13 Aaron Bramwell (captain), 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Alec Jenkins, 10 Lewis Humphreys, 9 Morgan Evans; 1 Jonny Gethin, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Ben Uphill; 4 Scott Davies, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Craig Hill, 8 Thomas Jevons, 7 Alun Jones
Replacements : Connah Vaughan, Kieran Griffiths, Scott Hoskins, Ioan Jones, Ceri White, Dyfan Ceredig, Nathan Griffiths, Jon Bayliss