BARGOED 55 NEATH 14
Bargoed deservedly and easily won the basement battle in the Premiership in the sunshine on Saturday against a tired-looking Neath side.
Several of Neath’s already lean squad were missing for various reasons which meant another raft of changes, the Blacks drafting in full back Jordan Coles (Aberdare) who showed some neat touches and Ben Jones (Glynneath) who was as lively as when he last played five seasons ago and he did as much as could be expected behind a beaten pack.
Bargoed had the better of the first-half but Neath missed chances to go in front via a straightforward penalty and then a fine break by flanker Joe Grabham which failed due to lack of support.
The home side took the lead through a try by outside-half Josh Prosser which he converted and then another when weak tackling in the build up let in full back Callum Jones and when the home side were awarded a penalty try Neath were already out of it, nineteen points down at the interval.
The tries flowed in the second-half when Bargoed called nearly all the shots with Prosser giving Neath an object lesson. He sensibly dictated affairs, kicking lengthily and astutely out of defence whereas Neath gambled on running from deep.
Home tries came from wing Duane Dyer, converted by Prosser, and from centre Barney Nightingale before Neath enjoyed a golden ten minutes which yielded first tries for the club by Scott Davies who worked hard alongside Rhys Morgan in the second row and by No.8 Guido Volpi with Callum Hall converting both.
But any hopes of a sustained revival were quickly extinguished when flanker Grant Rogers crossed for a try which Prosser converted. Further scores by Geraint Edmunds, another penalty try and then one by Prosser hoisted the home side beyond the half-century.
Neath kept playing and near the end forced a series of raids close to the Bargoed line – their efforts probably deserved a score as bargoed infringed but it all came to nothing. Maybe it was a game too far for the re-shaped Blacks who have had a tough run recently and a Welsh Cup-enforced rest next Saturday might be just what the doctor ordered.
Neath coach Patrick Horgan observed, “Bargoed will in all probability be relegated with us at the end of the season so this result highlights how much work we have ahead of us.
“We had a lot of players missing from our regular crew with new recruits like Jarrad and Jordan Rees, Nicky Griffiths, Lee Evans, Leon Ward and so on out injured as well.
“We’ll regroup now for the final charge at the last five games and we need to keep our focus. We will be looking for improvements and refinements in each game and then we’ll have the summer to really get down to work.”
NEATH – Jordan Coles; Gareth Hopkins, Tom Evans (Gavin Evans), Aaron Bramwell (captain); Alec Jenkins; Callum Hall, Ben Jones; Kieran Griffiths (Cole Barry), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Tyla Murvai; Scott Davies, Rhys Morgan (Ioan Jones); Garin Lloyd (Gareth Jones), Guido Volpi, Joe Grabham (Ceri White)
Neath journey to Bargoed to play the side nearest them in the Premiership on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm) and there are changes fore and aft for the Blacks.
Gareth Hopkins comes back on the wing with Callum Hall partnering Glynneath’s Ben Jones at half-back. Up front lock Rhys Morgan, Garin Lloyd and Joe Grabham resume.
The bench is yet to be finalised.
Neath v Bargoed (Away)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 Alec Jenkins, 13 Tomas Evans, 12 Jarrad Rees, 11 Gareth Hopkins; 10 Callum Hall, 9 Ben Jones, 1 Kieran Griffiths, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Scott Davies, 5 Rhys Morgan, 6 Garin Lloyd, 8 Guido Volpi, 7 Joe Grabham
Replacements – TBC