Category: Match Reports



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



Neath might be heading for relegation but they are not going down without a fight and, while Quins were undeniably the stronger unit, the Blacks again showed plenty of pride and the scoreline did not reflect how much of the game they enjoyed.

For the first time since October, Neath did not have a new starter in their line-up but they were the architects of their own downfall. After an even opening eight minutes, the Blacks were attacking only for Quins winger Dylan Morgans to intercept a pass from the pirouetting back-rower Leon Ward to race 65 metres to score at the other end.

Both Ward and fellow back-rower Ceri White were then halted inches from the try-line but, rather against the run of play, Quins scrum-half Aaron Hemmings nipped in for their second try as he capitalised upon weak tackling on the left and full back Aled Thomas slotted the simple second conversion.

Neath stuck to their task though with No.8 Guido Volpi carrying strongly at every opportunity and the front rank of Kieran Griffiths, Sion Crocker and Tyla Murvai grafted hard. Behind them, halves Macauley Griffiths and Jordan Rees were ever eager to bring centres Tom Evans and Jarrad Rees into play and, midway through the half, Neath got some overdue reward for their efforts when outside-half Jordan Rees landed a penalty.

Photos courtesy of Len Kowalski of @neathtog

But Quins came again when scrum half Hemmings was allowed a second bite at a scrum under the Neath posts and went in for their third try which Thomas converted. Neath pressed hard up to the interval and opted to go for a line-out rather than a simple three points but it came to nothing and Quins were in control at 21-3 up.

The Blacks continued to show a willingness to play after the restart and a clever kick by Jordan Rees was gathered by Ystalyfera winger Jon Bayliss who gathered cleanly to score wide out. Quins were clearly rattled because their next visit to the Neath 22 saw them opt for a kick at goal which the admirable Thomas landed to make it 24-8.

As the replacements flowed, the game opened up and Quins grabbed the bonus point when hooker Torin Myhill crossed from a well-worked more up the front of a line-out. Aled Thomas converted and the full back then scored himself and converted for a personal tally of 18 points which put the game beyond Neath.

But still the persistent Blacks would not lie down and they kept attacking to the end. Full back Aaron Bramwell, making his 150th appearance, played with the courage of a latter-day J.P.R. Williams (without the sweat band) and repeatedly hurtled into the attack. Neath kept chasing and ultimately replacement James Roberts gathered and two quick passes later Callum Hall skipped in for a try which he converted himself.

So it was another defeat for Neath but it was much, much better than the corresponding fixture at Carmarthen and Blacks’ supporters, while still yearning the spoils, were well content again with the intent and effort which their under-fire team is showing.

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain); Jon Bayliss, Tomas Evans (Callum Hall), Jarrad Rees (James Roberts), Alec Jenkins; Jordan Rees, Macauley Griffiths; Kieran Griffiths (Robat White), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Tyla Murvai (Ben Curtis-Jones); Scott Davies (Garin Lloyd), Ioan Jones (Rhys Morgan), Leon Ward, Guido Volpi, Ceri White (Jake Blackmore) H


In one of only two Premiership fixtures on Saturday, Neath play Carmarthen Quins at The Gnoll (kick off 2.30pm) and the Blacks’ selection features many of those who finished so strongly against RGC last week.

Young centre Tom Evans who scored a quick-fire debut try last week starts at centre along with winger Jon Bayliss who last appeared on Boxing Day. Jordan Rees and Macauley Griffiths team up at half back.

Up front prop Kieran Griffiths, hooker Sion Crocker, lock Scott Davies and flankers Leon Ward and Ceri White re-appear.

It is not quite a rota but the bench comprises five players who started last week alongside the returning Connah Vaughan and Robat White (also Ystalyfera) with one prop position to be finalised.

Neath v Carmarthen Quins (Home)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 Jon Bayliss, 13 Tomas Evans, 12 Jarrad Rees, 11 Alec Jenkins; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Macauley Griffiths 1 Kieran Griffiths, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Scott Davies, 5 Ioan Jones, 6 Leon Ward, 8 Guido Volpi, 7 Ceri White

Replacements – 16 Connah Vaughan, 17 Robat White, 18 A.N.Other, 19 Rhys Morgan, 20 Jake Blackmore, 21 Garin Lloyd, 22 Callum Hall, 23 James Roberts


Neath and RGC overcame wet and windy conditions to serve up an entertaining eve-of-Grand Slam appetizer at The Gnoll on Friday evening.

Playing with first use of the elements, RGC were out of the blocks as Neath, attempting to over-play in the conditions, made too many errors and the visitors were 12 points up in the first quarter after tries by both wings Aron Evans and Sam Jones, the latter converted by outside-half Billy McBryde.

Neath, again permitting heavily with 14 loanees in the 23-man squad, did not show too much cohesion although yet again nobody could be faulted for lack of effort. Jonny Thomas re-appeared alongside Garin Lloyd and Tyla Murvai in a hard-working front row who carried strongly as did No.8 Guido Volpi while flankers Jacob Blackmore and Ben Davies also made an impact. Reuben Morgan-Williams showed a few flashes of his best at scrum-half but RGC were in firm control and made full use of the wind.

Photos courtesy of Len Kowalski of @neathtog

Yet RGC’s third try would not have been out of place in a West End farce. It was credited to centre Delwyn Jones but really the score belonged to inconsistent referee Mr. Stephen Allsop who performed a totally effective piece of blocking by obstructing two Neath defenders and then compounded his error by awarding the try. Bizarre ! But Neath have been hammered by the whistlers this season and McBryde’s easy conversion more or less settle the game at 19-nil. It led one observer to comment wryly “Maybe they’ll give us better referees in the Championship” but the damage was done and Neath went in to the interval 19 points adrift instead of a manageable 12.

Now playing with the wind, Neath re-started strongly and outside-half Callum Hall, fine kicker as he is, landed a long-range penalty but the kick off was not dealt with and RGC claimed the bonus point when centre Iolo Evans touched down wide out.

To their credit, Neath kept coming and fresh legs from the bench saw the replacement front row of Ifan James, Sion Crocker and Gareth Hall provide industry while Leon Ward and Ioan Jones started winning more line-out possession despite the worsening rain.

Neath began to look increasingly dangerous and a series of forward drives had RGC defending, the referee played advantage and a speculative Hall chip bounced back favourably for Neath and young centre Tom Evans was on hand to gather and touch down for a rapid debut try which Hall converted.

Momentum was now with the Blacks, replacement scrum-half Macauley Griffiths was able to speed his backs away and winger James Roberts was denied a certain try. The Blacks pressed strongly to the end and only some rugged RGC defence kept them out.

RGC were worthy winners but Neath won the second-half : not by enough to win the game and not exactly hands down but, in this most miserable of seasons, it was a small consolation for the Blacks who next Saturday host Carmarthen Quins (kick off 2.30pm).

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain); James Roberts (Gareth Hopkins), Jarrad Rees, Lesley Klim (Tom Evans), Alec Jenkins; Callum Hall, Reuben Morgan-Williams (Macauley Griffiths); Jonny Thomas (Ifan James), Garin Lloyd (Sion Crocker), Tyla Murvai (Gareth Hall); Ioan Jones, Rhys Morgan (Leon Ward); Jake Blackmore, Guido Volpi, Ben Davies (Ceri White)


In Friday’s only Premiership action, Neath host RGC at The Gnoll (kick off 7.30pm) and the Blacks again make changes as they seek to provide long-suffering supporters with something to cheer.

Ospreys’ Namibian international Lesley Klim makes his second appearance at centre while wing Alec Jenkins and scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams return.

Up front prop Jonny Thomas re-appears after spells with Bridgend, Aberavon and latterly Baglan while lock Rhys Morgan and No.8 Guido Volpi return and Dunvant flanker Ben Davies gets a first start.

On the bench, two young players in Newcastle-Emlyn prop Ifan James and Pontarddualis centre Tomas Evans are lined up for debuts while prop Gareth Hall (Glynneath), scrum-half Macauley Griffiths (Rhydyfelin) and winger Gareth Hopkins (Beddau) could make Gnoll debuts after assisting in recent away games.

Neath v RGC (Home)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Lesley Klim, 11 Alec Jenkins; 10 Callum Hall, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams; 1 Jonny Thomas, 2 Garin Lloyd, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Ioan Jones, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Jake Blackmore, 8 Guido Volpi, 7 Ben Davies

Replacements – 16 Sion Crocker, 17 Ifan James, 18 Gareth Hall, 19 Leon Ward, 20 Ceri White, 21 Macauley Griffiths, 22 Tomas Evans, 23 Gareth Hopkins


NEWPORT 48 points NEATH 10 points
Neath face RGC at The Gnoll on Friday evening (kick off 7.30pm) in the last of their floodlit games for 2018/19 and will be hoping for better luck than on their visit to Newport.

The game very nearly did not take place as the Rodney Parade groundsman feared for his pitch following heavy afternoon rain but both teams were keen to play, the Neath diehards were already in the ground and, thanks to the best efforts of home secretary Dennis Bennett, common sense prevailed.

Neath made 9 changes – mostly enforced – for this game and, with 13 players in their 23 on permit, they were always going to be up against it. However, the only debutant was Ospreys centre Lesley Klim who became the first Namibian international to play for Neath on this his first appearance in Wales having arrived last August.

He obviously needs more match practice but showed well enough in his 45 minutes of action and nearly got on the receiving end of a break by co-centre Jarrad Rees which would have spelled a first-half try for Neath.

As the rain eased, it was very much Newport’s night though and, after Neath lost prop Steffan Jones with injured ankle ligaments in the first five minutes, they steadily built up a 19-nil lead through first half tries by hooker, Henry Palmer, wing Andrew Evans and scrum-half Tom Lucas, outside-half Haydn Simons converting two.

Neath had chances of their own : Klim was nearly through and there were two kick and chase efforts by wing Gareth Hopkins and scrum-half Nicky Griffiths which might have brought better reward but the cover defence just got across in time.

Right on the stroke of half-time, Neath were awarded an eminently kickable penalty but, bravely opting for the line-out instead, the forwards drove on and flanker Lee Evans dabbed down for a try which Callum Hall converted to make it 7-19.

The Blacks started the second-half promisingly enough as Hall struck a good penalty but thereafter, gamely as Neath battled, it was virtually one-way traffic as they gave away a couple of soft tries from a charge-down and an interception.

The home side levied second-half scores by Morgan Burgess, replacement Chris Williams, Chay Smith, Elliot Frewen and on time winger Duan Thomas with Simons converting two.

There were errors galore on a greasy surface but the decision to play the game was fully vindicated and a word of praise is due too to referee Mr. Carwyn Williams (Ystalyfera), in charge of his first Premiership game, who kept things going.

So Neath must dust themselves down and prepare for Friday’s re-arranged home game against RGC. The team needs support at the moment and a good home crowd might just make a difference.

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain); James Roberts, Jarrad Rees, Lesley Klim (Caine Woolerton), Gareth Hopkins; Callum Hall (Jordan Rees), Nicky Griffiths (Macauley Griffiths); Steffan Jones (Callum Jones, Lloyd Jenkins), Garin Lloyd (Sion Crocker), Tyla Murvai; Scott Davies (Rhys Morgan), Ioan Jones; Lee Evans (Ben Davies), Leon Ward, Jake Blackmore


Neath ring the changes when they travel to play Newport at Rodney Parade on Friday evening (kick off 7.15pm). Ospreys’ Namibian international Lesley Klim comes in at centre for his debut while several players return. Gareth Hopkins is on the wing while Callum Hall and Nicky Griffiths team up at half-back. Up front, Steffan Jones and Tyla Murvai will prop alongside hooker Garin Lloyd with Ioan Jones in the second row and Trebanos’ Jake Blackmore slots in to the back row.

Neath v Newport (Away)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Lesley Klim, 11 Gareth Hopkins; 10 Callum Hall, 9 Nicky Griffiths; 1 Steffan Jones, 2 Garin Lloyd, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Scott Davies, 5 Ioan Jones; 6 Lee Evans, 8 Leon Ward, 7 Jake Blackmore

Replacements – 16 Sion Crocker, 17 Callum Jones, 18 Lloyd Jenkins, 19 Rhys Morgan, 20 Ben Davies, 21 Macauley Griffiths, 22 Jordan Rees, 23 Caine Woolerton


NEATH nil LLANDOVERY 35 points
Neath’s already depleted ranks were stretched further in this home defeat by Llandovery as both captain Aaron Bramwell and centre Keiran Williams were forced to leave the field in the second-half with nasty-looking injuries.

The neck injury to their captain incensed The Gnoll crowd as Llandovery No.8 Emyr Price was yellow carded for the incident but home supporters clearly felt the offence merited a red card. Fortunately, Bramwell was not as seriously hurt as first thought and was his usual chirpy self in the Clubhouse afterwards.

It was the only severe incident in a hard-fought game in which the Blacks once more displayed great courage but were undone by their opponents’ greater organisation and a familiarity built upon having played together for far longer than this Neath team.

The loss of centre Williams was a blow as he was as busy as ever and on top form in a stubborn Neath team although he could take some consolation from being nominated “Man of the Match” by the Supporters’ Club.

He had been at the heart of a great defensive effort by the home backs who kept a rein on the Llandovery three-quarters who ran some pretty lines behind the scrum.

It was strange therefore that all five tries – by centre Rhodri Jones (2), scrum-half Lee Rees, flanker Stuart Worrall and No.8 Price – came from close-range situations with the debut-making referee hugely influential in at least two of them.

Defensive certainty usually goes with selection continuity – something which Neath cannot be assured of at the moment. In this game, the Blacks called upon three new props in Robat White (Ystalyfera), Lloyd Jenkins (Kenfig Hill) and Will Davies (Ystalyfera) with the fourth Kieran Griffiths making only his fourth appearance.

It is difficult therefore for the coaches to achieve the necessary level of organisation to cope with a well-drilled eight like Llandovery’s and, although working hard, the home forwards generally played second-fiddle to the away octet.

For Neath, the brothers Rees, Jarrad and Jordan, did a lot of good work and outside-half Jordan would have been a close second to Keiran Williams in the award stakes while it was good to see scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams making just his second start of the season although he had few opportunities to show his paces.

In the back row, Ceri White and Garin Lloyd – both out of action for two months – played a half each and came through well and Lloyd in particular made some strong incursions as Neath actually enjoyed the greater territory in the second-half.

Neath are away at Newport on Friday and the next home game will be on Friday week, March 15th when RGC visit The Gnoll for the match postponed from December.

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain) (Callum Hall); James Roberts, Jarrad Rees, Keiran Williams (Sion O’Brien), John Lumb; Jordan Rees, Reuben Morgan-Williams; Robat White (Will Davies), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Kieran Griffiths (Lloyd Jenkins); Rhys Morgan, Scott Davies; Lee Evans (Ioan Jones), Leon Ward, Ceri White (Garin Lloyd)


Reuben Morgan-Williams makes his second appearance of the season when Neath entertain Llandovery at The Gnoll on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).

Other changes see fit-again James Roberts and John Lumb back on the wings while Ystalyfera prop Robat White slots into the front row. Scott Davies returns at lock with Leon Ward and Ceri White in the back row.

Neath v Llandovery (Home)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 John Lumb; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams; 1 Robat White, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Kieran Griffiths; 4 Rhys Morgan, 5 Scott Davies; 6 Lee Evans, 8 Leon Ward, 7 Ceri White

Replacements – 16 Connah Vaughan, 17 Will Davies, 18 A.N.Other, 19 Garin Lloyd, 20 Ioan Jones, 21 Nicky Griffiths, 22 Callum Hall, 23 Gavin Evans


Battling Neath came as close to victory as they have since beating Bargoed in November before two late tries secured a bonus point win for Bedwas in a keenly-fought encounter at the Bridge Field.

This time last year Britain was in the midst of the “Beast from the East” but in uncustomary sunny late February weather Neath gave as good as they got for much of the game; in the end it was probably Bedwas’ superior team-work which was enough to see them through.

Neath opened the scoring afetr 12 minutes with a penalty from fly half Jordan Rees after Bedwas were penalised at a ruck but home full back Joseph Scrivens equalised with a penalty of his own four minutes later to level the scores.

Lively Bedwas captain Alun Rees inspired the opening try by scrum-half Luke Crane and the referee doubled Neath’s woe when he yellow carded prop Gareth Wyn Lloyd before Scrivens converted.

Jordan Rees slotted another penalty but Bedwas extended their lead with a try from No.8 Dale Rogers, again converted by Scrivens, Neath losing a second man – No.8 Guido Volpi – to the sin bin and Bedwas capitalised on Neath’s 13-men when wing Adam Williams crossed, Scrivens’ conversion putting Bedwas 24-6 ahead.

Many sides would have capitulated at this stage but Neath battled back and as Bedwas conceded a string of penalties near their line – surprisingly in view of what had happened to Neath, no yellow card was issued here ! – excellent scrum-half Nicky Griffiths pounced for a try, Rees’ penalty closing the gap to 24-13 at half-time.

And the Blacks started the second-half with a bang as centre Kieran Williams scorched over for a try and a third penalty on 50 minutes by Jordan Rees cut the deficit to 21-24.

Thereafter, it was nip and tuck as both sides sought the vital next score. Every Neath player gave of their best with tearaway forwards Gareth Howells and Joe Grabham very much in the thick of the action.

But it was Bedwas who scored next when Scrivens crossed in the right corner for their fourth bonus point try and they made the game safe when replacement Sion Parry bagged another, Scrivens converting.

Still Neath were not done and, flooding their replacements, the Blacks finished stronger. Constant pressure on the Bedwas line eventually led to a third Neath try by winger Gareth Hopkins, replacement Callum Hall converting and, with the Neath scrum threatening a couple of pushovers, Bedwas held out to the relief of the home crowd.

Bedwas leapt into the safe-for-now 11th spot in the table but Neath deserved to take more than just pride out of this game which fully lived up to the capital weather.

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain); Gareth Hopkins, Jarrad Rees, Keiran Williams, Richard Carter; Jordan Rees (Callum Hall), Nicky Griffiths (Macauley Griffiths); Gareth Wyn Lloyd (Steffan Jones), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Kieran Griffiths (Gareth Hall); Rhys Morgan (Scott Davies), Gareth Howells; Lee Evans, Guido Volpi (Jacob Blackmore), Joe Grabham


Four players return for Neath in their noon kick off at Bedwas on Saturday.

Keiran Griffiths comes in at prop with Rhys Morgan in the second row and Lee Evans back at flanker while scrum-half Nicky Griffiths plays against one of his former clubs.

Neath v Bedwas (Away)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 John Lumb, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Gareth Hopkins; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Nicky Griffiths; 1 Gareth Wyn Lloyd, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Keiran Griffiths; 4 Rhys Morgan, 5 Gareth Howells; 6 Lee Evans, 8 Guido Volpi, 7 Joe Grabham

Replacements – 16 Connah Vaughan, 17 Steffan Jones, 18 Gareth Hall, 19 Scott Davies, 20 Ioan Jones, 21 Dyfan Ceredig, 22 A.N. Other, 23 Callum Hall



Neath’s visit to Premiership leaders Merthyr predictably ended in defeat as it was bottom versus top – but again there was much to commend in the All Blacks’ performance.

A squad featuring 12 players on permit, 6 in the starting backs line-up, is no recipe for success at big-spending Merthyr and the Premiership leaders duly beat Neath – but not without a fight !

Neath held them to 5-12 at half-time and, though heavily penalised by an unsympathetic referee who added to Neath’s woes with a double sin-binning before half-time, the Blacks tackled tenaciously, defended doggedly and competed courageously.

Both those tries – by Adam Hoskins and Rhys Williams – came from the scourge of the modern game – innocuous penalties around the halfway line, followed by a kick to touch and a close-range line-out drive with defenders unable to get near the ball.

Neath stole a score themselves when Guido Volpi’s sleight of hand sent Skewen winger Matthew Billett in at the left corner and the Blacks to a man worked overtime not least the back row of Volpi and his flankers Alun Jones and Joe Grabham and Bedlinog scrum Liam Roberts on his debut.

Hooker Williams repeated the line-out drive trick twice in the second-half leading one Neath follower to wonder aloud why Sir Stan Thomas is spending his millions just to watch line-out drives.

Those scores put the home side out of reach and they added three prettier scores after that. While Neath are bringing in players from Division 3, Merthyr brought in Welsh international Tom James who got one before Jay Baker added two in injury time – and six Jarvis conversions meant that Neath went down to a heavier defeat than it might have been.

Arguably, Neath made better use of the possession they had with Keiran Williams and Jordan Rees inventive attackers. Up front hooker Sion Crocker, locks Scott Davies and Gareth Howells and the back row worked hard throughout.

Despite it being almost a “mission impossible”, Neath as usual took strong support and their large band of followers was rewarded with another committed performance from the team. And the faithful will be there at Bedwas for Saturday’s re-arranged fixture (12 noon kick off).

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain) (Callum Hall); John Lumb, Jarrad Rees, Keiran Williams (Sean O’Brien), Matthew Billett; Jordan Rees, Liam Roberts; Ben Uphill (Stef Bond), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Gareth Wyn Lloyd (Zach Evans); Scott Davies (Lee Evans), Gareth Howells; Alun Jones (Leon Ward), Guido Volpi, Joe Grabham


Neath make several changes when they head to table-topping Merthyr on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).

Behind the scrum, wingers John Lumb (Cardigan) and Matthew Billett (Skewen) come in while Jordan Rees and Liam Roberts (Bedlinog) link up at half-back. Ben Uphill returns to the front row with Gareth Howells in the second row and Academy prospect Joe Grabham gets a start in the back row.

Neath v Merthyr (Away)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 John Lumb, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Matthew Billett; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Liam Roberts; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Gareth Wyn Lloyd; 4 Scott Davies, 5 Gareth Howells; 6 Alun Jones, 8 Guido Volpi, 7 Joe Grabham

Replacements – 16 Connah Vaughan, 17 Stef Bond, 18 Dyfan Ceredig, 19 Ioan Jones/Lee Evans, 20 Leon Ward, 21 Callum Hall, 22 Sion O’Brien, 23 Gareth Hopkins


Another brave performance by Neath could not mask the superiority of a Pontypridd team riding high in second place in the table and galvanised by the revelation of financial troubles at Sardis Road.

The Neath team showed bags of courage and might have improved the scoreline but were well beaten by the buoyant visitors who levied tries through winger Alex Webber (2), hooker Rob Jones, Blues full back Ben Jones, lock Shay Smallman, flanker Rhys Shellard and No.8 Alun Lawrence, former Wales outside-half Ceri Sweeney (4) and replacement Diggy Bird adding conversions.

Keiren Williams returned to good effect at centre before being replaced at half-time when it was nil-24 while No.8 Guido Volpi made an impressive debut at No.8 while scrum-half Nicky Griffiths collected the Supporters’ Club Man of the Match award.

NEATH – Aaron Bramwell (captain); Richard Carter, Jarrad Rees, Keiran Williams (Jordan Rees), Alec Jenkins, Callum Hall, Nicky Griffiths (Nathan Griffiths); Gareth Wyn Lloyd (Ben Uphill), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Tyla Murvai (Kieran Griffiths); Scott Davies (Ioan Jones), Rhys Morgan; Lee Evans (Leon Ward), Guido Volpi, Alun Jones (Joe Grabham)
Referee – Mr. Simon Mills (New Dock Stars)


Young Ospreys No.8 Guido Volpi makes his debut for Neath when they take on Pontypridd at The Gnoll on Friday evening (kick off 7.30pm).

The Argentinian forward, previously with Narbonne, steps up for Neath’s first game since their change of ownership and he is joined in the starting line-up by centre Keiran Williams while Joe Grabham re-appears on the bench.

With James Roberts still on the injured list, an S.O.S. has gone out to Richard Carter, the former Neath and Aberavon wing who now coaches at Resolven, while prop Gareth Wyn Lloyd, a try-scoring replacement against Swansea, starts for the first time.

Neath v Pontypridd (Home)
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 Richard Carter, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Keiran Williams, 11 Alec Jenkins, 10 Callum Hall, 9 Nicky Griffiths, 1 Gareth Wyn Lloyd, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Scott Davies, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Lee Evans, 8 Guido Volpi, 7 Alun Jones

Replacements – 16 Connah Vaughan, 17 Ben Uphill, 18 Keiran Griffiths, 19 Ioan Jones, 20 Leon Ward, 21 Joe Grabham, 22 Nathan Griffiths, 23 Jordan Rees


Another spirited performance from Neath was not enough as they went down to a 3 tries to 6 defeat at The Gnoll. As rumours intensify about the club ownership, Neath produced another gritty display but Swansea’s greater organisation which has brought them their best Premiership run for many years saw them home.

But there was much to commend in this Neath performance. The forwards scrummaged powerfully as the front row of Ben Uphill, Sion Crocker and Tyla Murvai got the better of the vaunted Swansea trio comprising the regionally experienced Tom Sloane and Neath’s Ifan Phillips and Greg Cunniffe… and the Neath replacement threesome of Gareth Wyn Lloyd, Connah Vaughan and Keiran Griffiths relished the exchanges later on too.

Behind them, Rhys Morgan and the evergreen Lee Evans provided the grunt and the back row of Craig Hill, Aled Cockwell and Alun Jones worked their socks off. Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths again operated shrewdly and outside-half Callum Hall kicked perfectly, his two touchline conversions being particularly fine strikes.

Neath fell behind early on, the home tackling lacking as full back R. Rhys Williams crossed, Stef Williams converting. Swansea had strong ball carriers in Fox, Kiley and ex-Neath man Charlie Davies but they were not having it all their own and it was not until the 25th minute that they scored their second try through Phillips, Stef Williams converting before adding a penalty on the half-hour.

Neath were growing as the game progressed and they earned their reward on half-time when a strong forward surge produced a try for Alun Jones who touched down with fellow flanker Hill in close attendance. Hall’s splendid touchline conversion made it 7-17 at half-time.

A Ben Cambriani try converted by Williams settled the bonus point for Swansea but Neath refused to be subdued. The referee had resorted early on to tit-for-tat penalties at the scrums and, when he yellow-carded Uphill and Cunniffe,the pair left the field grinning like a pair of naughty schoolboys but Swansea were unable to hold the Neath scrum and the referee awarded the Blacks a well-deserved penalty-try. However, Swansea struck with two tries by J.Rhys Williams either side of a dropped goal by Stef Williams who converted the first, Luke Griffiths converting the second.

The result was established but Neath were still playing with drive though and when replacement lock Ioan Jones won line-out ball, the forwards took on the initiative and prop Gareth Wyn Lloyd powered over at the Union end for his first try which Hall again goaled immaculately from the touchline. However, Neath’s concentration wavered at the re-start and Swansea had the last word with a try by ex-Neath centre Mike Evans, Griffiths converting to end a game of spotless goal-kicking and much entertainment.

NEATH – Jordan Rees; James Roberts (John Lumb), Jarrad Rees, Aaron Bramwell (captain), Alec Jenkins, Callum Hall, Nicky Griffiths (Nathan Griffiths), Ben Uphill (Gareth Wyn Lloyd), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Tyla Murvai (Kieran Griffiths); Lee Evans, Rhys Morgan (Ioan Jones); Craig Hill (Leon Ward), Aled Cockwell, Alun Jones (Dyfan Ceredig)
SWANSEA – R.R.Williams (R.Griffiths); G.Rees, M.Evans, J.R.Williams, B.Cambriani; S.Williams, T.Ham (C.Morgans); T.Sloane (J.Powell), I.Phillips, G.Cunniffe (M.Walsh); S.Kiley (M.Dodd),’ J.Williams; C.Davies, J.Fox (capt) (D.Eager), C.Bowden
Referee : Mr. A.Liddington (Abertillery)


Neath take on near-neighbours Swansea at The Gnoll on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).

With speculation rife about the Club’s ownership, Neath supporters have been rallying behind the team which this week features just four changes from last week’s starting line-up.

Behind the scrum, centre Jarrad Rees comes in for Gavin Evans. Up front Lee Evans returns to the second row with Aled Cockwell and Alun Jones in the back row.

Neath v Swansea (Home)
15 Jordan Rees; 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Aaron Bramwell (captain), 11 Alec Jenkins, 10 Callum Hall, 9 Nicky Griffiths, 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Lee Evans, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Craig Hill, 8 Aled Cockwell, 7 Alun Jones

Replacements from – Connah Vaughan, Gareth Wyn Lloyd, Lewis Price, Keiran Griffiths, Ioan Jones, Leon Ward, Dyfan Ceredig, Nathan Griffiths, Jon Lumb, Gavin Evans