NEATH 18pts CARMARTHEN QUINS 15pts
Things are stirring at The Gnoll where Quins’ near daylight robbery was averted via a late try by Neath full back Ed Howley who restored his team’s lead which had been momentarily lost two minutes before and gave the Welsh All Blacks their second League win.
This match was switched to the Neath citadel at short notice because Carmarthen Park is unfit and the visitors took the lead when Scarlets fly half Dan Jones landed a simple penalty.
TRY RULED OUT
The All Blacks were unlucky not to go ahead when quick-silver scrum-half Scott Gibson took a quick penalty, linked with hooker Sion Crocker who passed to Kieran Williams who ‘scored’ under the posts but was recalled. Neath, playing with great confidence, spurned kickable penalties and they took the lead when good work by centre Matthew Pearce and a series of close range surges by the forwards ended with a try by prop Geraint James.
Full back Ed Howley landed the conversion and Neath continued to dominate – Quins were penalised five times for offside in midfield and were fortunate to escape a yellow-card for repeat-offences before Neath went further ahead when Howley landed a goal. Mike Evans threatened but Neath were penalised on the Carmarthen line and, in a rare attack, Quins hit back with a neat try in the left corner by wing Morgan Griffiths.
SECOND HALF CONTEST
Neath’s 10-8 interval lead did not reflect their dominance during the first moiety but good work by lock Rhys Jones to collect the kick-off and a dart up the blind-side by the smart Gavin Evans led to a penalty which Howley goaled. Quins tried hard to get back into it, skipper Haydn Pugh – an ex-Neath man – setting a super example at the lineouts but Neath’s defence held firm and they executed a breakout through Williams. When wing Geraint Llewellyn threatened on the left, Quins had scrum-half Beynon-Thomas yellow carded just when Neath looked set to score.
ANOTHER TRY RULED OUT
Replacement Chris Morgans spurred Neath on with his trademark runs – with Reuben Morgan-Williams yet to appear, Neath have a wealth of talent at scrum-half – but the All Blacks had another touchdown denied them, this time for blocking although Neath have had many such scores awarded against them ! Restored to 15 men, the Quins girded themselves for one last effort and the game opened out through some loose kicking. With two minutes remaining on the clock, high drama unfolded as, from one of altogether too penalties given the Quins, Beynon-Thomas took a quick tap and raced past a sleeping Neath defence to score under the posts.
Jones’ conversion looked to have stolen a win but this Neath team is made of stern stuff and, retaining the ball through several phases and many hands – backs and forwards included – the ball reached Ed Howley who nudged the ball past the two remaining Quins defenders and beat them to it for a splendid match-winning try.
Coach Gareth Llewellyn said, “We had the win in our grasp but I thought they had pinched it with their late try. It speaks volumes for our character really that we still had it in us to grab it back again. It was the kind of game that the crowds relish and this team deserves big support next week when RGC visit. Full marks to a very organised Quins team too.”
NEATH – E.Howley; M.Evans (I.Evans), K.Williams, M.Pearce (G.Llewellyn), R.Smith; G.Evans, S.Gibson (C.Morgans); B.Uphill (N.White), S.Crocker (J.Davies), G.James (R.Thomas); R.Jones, M.Davies; L.Ward (E.Hopkins), S.Hicks, J.Collier (capt)
CARM.QUINS – A.Thomas; D.Morgans, N.Reynolds, J.Batcup, M.Griffiths; D.Jones, I.Beynon-Thomas (A.Hemmings); N.Williams (G.Robinson), T.Myhill, S.Thomas (J.Sebastian); S.Jones, H.Pugh (capt); R.Clancy, L.Taylor, L.Millin
Referee– Mr. J.Morris (Aberdare)
Neath entertain Carmarthen Quins at THE GNOLL for their first Premiership tie of the season on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).
Following three warm-up wins, Neath made it four out of four when they eased past Swansea (39-16) in their first League outing last week and they make only three changes.
Keiran Williams returns at centre with Richard Smith switching to the wing while Matthew Davies and Leon Ward come in up front.
Neath coach Gareth Llewellyn said, “We have not made too many changes as we want to build momentum and give team patterns a chance to settle. But the other squad members know what is expected of them and will get their chances.
“Carmarthen Quins are always a hard nut to crack and they will have been disappointed to lose their opening game at Llanelli last week especially as their forwards went so well.
“We were pleased to get off to a winning start against Swansea but it is early days yet and Quins will be a different proposition.
“We expect Quins to have a few Scarlets behind the scrum and we know what they are capable of up front. We set a standard last week and we need to up our game from that.”
Neath v Carmarthen Quins
15 Ed Howley; 14 Richard Smith, 13 Keiran Williams, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 Mike Evans; 10 Gavin Evans, 9 Scott Gibson; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Geraint James; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Matthew Davies; 6 Leon Ward, 8 Scott Hicks, 7 Jordan Collier (captain),
Replacements :- 16 Neil White, 17 Ifan Phillips, 18 Ryan Thomas, 19 Jon Barley, 20 Elis Hopkins, 21 Chris Morgans, 22 Iwan Evans, 23 Geraint Llewellyn
** COMING UP NEXT AT THE GNOLL ! – September fixtures against RGC (9th) and Llanelli (23rd) – Season Tickets are still available and cover all home Premiership matches – details on website.