Category: Neath Rugby News

MATTHEW J. WATKINS

Rugby supporters are deeply saddened by the news that former Scarlets and Wales player Matthew Watkins has passed away at the age of 41.

The thoughts of everyone at Neath RFC are with Matthew’s family and friends at this sad time.

MATCH REPORT: NEATH 23 BARGOED 40 – THURSDAY, MARCH 5th, 2020

NEATH 23 BARGOED 40
Bargoed kept the pressure on Championship leaders Pontypool with this well-merited win at The Gnoll – but Neath gave them a shock and were very much in the game until Bargoed’s well-drilled, burly forwards strangled them in the second-half.

Still, signs are that Neath are tuning into the fast, all-action game that the coaches and Blacks’ supporters want to see and they carried on where they left off at Bedwas with some wonderful off-loading and handling in a first-half of genuine quality.

On a chill, still evening, The Gnoll was in its usual tip-top condition and the game started at a terrific pace, Neath going through the phases and Bargoed countering but Neath were victims of their own ambition when they conceded a try to their former No.8 Adam Powell with Steffan Jones adding the conversion points.

But Neath were really into their stride, some of the handling and backing-up by backs and forwards was almost Fijian-like and Bargoed were having trouble holding them. Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths went close but was held up, then impressive 18 year old full back Iestyn Morgan arrowed towards the posts. Eventually, Neath’s pressure told and flanker Tomi Antozzi crossed for Luke Griffiths to level with the conversion.

Neath were very much on top at this stage and continued to press – centre Jarrad Rees was full of running on his return alongside the ever-reliable Matthew Pearce, the scrum was solid enough and Sion Crocker led by example with the back row showing up well, Scott Malone always effective in support, and Griffiths posing problems.

The Blacks were rewarded with two penalties by winger Luke Griffiths to lead 13-7 but just before half-time Bargoed pegged Neath in their 22 and, when outside-half Jordan Rees (who otherwise hardly put a foot wrong) dropped a difficult pass, flanker Grant Rogers flopped on the ball to claim a try and Jones’ conversion gave Bargoed a one-point half-time lead at 14-13.

Bargoed served early notice of their intentions when Neath conceded on the resumption and took the lead with a forward try by flanker Ronny Kynes which ex-Cardiff man Jones goaled but Neath hit back, attacking strongly to the posts and, with the home supporters baying for a yellow card after the defence infringed, Neath had to be satisfied with a third Griffiths penalty to make it 16-21.

Bargoed then turned the screw and concerted, well-executed forward drives produced a try for hooker Rhys Buckley and then prop John Lavender strode through a weak tackle to touch down, Jones converting both. Neath refused to lie down and when Luke Griffiths scampered away for a try and rounded to the posts for the returning Matthew Jones to convert, it was 23-35. However, Bargoed had the last word as prop Ali Gardner-Key scored to make it 40-23 to the visitors who will chase Pontypool all the way.

The visitors deserved their expected win but Neath had threatened the Division’s best defensive-line more often than most and the Blacks can take small consolation from that and they probably played the more attractive rugby – but tackles were missed and the honours and the points rightly went to the Bargoed pack.

NEATH – I.Morgan (M.Jones); L.Griffiths, Jarrad Rees, M.Pearce, J.Roberts; Jordan Rees, N.Griffiths (M.Griffiths); B.Uphill (G.W.Lloyd), S.Crocker (capt), (Iestyn Jones), S.Jones; M.Davies, J.Barley; T.Antozzi, D.Griggs, S.Malone (B.Lukes)

BARGOED – S.Jones; A.Jones, R.Humphries, D.Carter, S.Thomas; J.Prosser, J.Leadbetter;deserved K.Brown, W.Langley, A.Gardner-Key; G.Edmunds, J.Locke; G.Rogers (capt), A.Powell, R.Kynes Repl. (all used) – D.Humphries, H.Rees, J.Lavender, R.Buckley, L.Johnson

Referee – Mr. S.Mills (New Dock Stars)

Photos courtesy of Len Kowalski @neathtog

MATCH PREVIEW:

With the weather set to improve, Neath play their first home game for over a month on Thursday evening (kick off 7.30pm) when they entertain promotion-chasing Bargoed at The Gnoll.

Bargoed are always ready to explore the width of the pitch and Neath, following Saturday’s cancellation at Maesteg Quins, are keen to get back into action so supporters can expect an evening of exciting rugby.

Neath have named the side that was due to do duty at South Parade and hooker Sion Crocker will again lead the team in the absence of skipper Aaron Bramwell who is sidelined with a shoulder injury suffered in the 33-26 win at Bedwas.

Neath v Bargoed (Home) 7.30pm
15 Iestyn Morgan; 14 Luke Griffiths, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 James Roberts; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Nicky Griffiths; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker (captain), 3 Steffan Jones; 4 Matthew Davies, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Tomi Antozzi, 8 David Griggs, 7 Scott Malone

Replacements – 16 Gareth Lloyd, 17 Iestyn Jones, 18 Ben Lukes, 19 Macauley Griffiths, 20 Matthew Jones

Referee – Mr. Simon Mills (New Dock Stars)

Forthcoming Fixtures
Thu March 12 Cardiff Metropolitan Home 7.30pm
Sat March 21 Glamorgan Wanderers Home 2.30pm

SIX NATIONS RUGBY AT THE CLUBHOUSE – ENGLAND v WALES

SIX NATIONS RUGBY AT THE CLUBHOUSE – England v Wales (4:45pm Kick-off)

VIP LOUNGE:
Guest Speaker, Dafydd James.
2 course meal – £25 pp
(only 1 TABLE AVAILABLE)

HOSPITALITY LOUNGE
£10 pp Curry and all the trimmings plus Comedian Lenny Dee.
Please arrive no later than 3pm if possible
Followed by Band: Smooth operator
ALL BOOKED

HOSPITALITY SPORTS LOUNGE
Round tables of 10 – £5 pp
Curry and all the trimmings.
Able to watch band upstairs afterwards.

LOUNGE BAR (downstairs)
Free to all with Sausage and chips.

Clubhouse open as normal from 11am

To book your seats for this amazing day: Tel: 01639 643328.

HOSPITALITY NEWS: NEATH v BARGOED – (Thursday 5th March 2020)

Neath RFC hospitality will continue on Thursday 5th March for the BARGOED league fixture at the Gnoll.

The pre-match hospitality will start from 5:30pm comprising of a two course meal.

This is a great opportunity to try the Neath RFC hospitality experience which will be in place for every home league game. Recent hospitality events have been very successful and arrangements are being made to ensure that this experience continues for all home games.

Entry to hospitality is £20.00 which includes a Match Ticket.
(£12 for Season Ticket holders)


GUEST SPEAKER
Neath captain Aaron Bramwell is our special guest in hospitality on Thursday night, for a Q&A and his thoughts on the season

The on field action will then kick off at 7:30pm, as both NEATH and BARGOED will be eager to progress in their respective WRU Championship league campaigns.

Matchday hospitality is open to both Neath and BARGOED supporters.

Please book early by calling The Clubhouse on 01639 643328 or emailing ticketing@neathrfc.com

SPORTING MEMORIES – CALLING SENIOR NEATH RFC SUPPORTERS !

Senior Neath RFC supporters are invited to drop into the Clubhouse on Tuesday mornings, on the dates shown above, for a free coffee and chat.

Working with Ospreys in the Community, we are running a “Sporting Memories” group and sessions run on a fortnightly basis.

“Sporting Memories” clubs have been proven to help those of an older age group by providing social interaction to overcome isolation, loneliness etc.

In the friendly, welcoming environment of Neath RFC, supporters can chat, meet old and new friends, take part in activities and reminisce about sport using the proud history of Neath RFC to start conversations and remember days gone by.

Free refreshments will be provided – just drop in on the dates above or, for further information, please contact helen.john@ospreysrugby.com

MATCH POSTPONED: Maesteg Quins v Neath – SATURDAY 29th February

MAESTEG QUINS V NEATH POSTPONED
Today’s Maesteg Quins-Neath match has been postponed.
Quins did their best – ours was the last of the grass pitches in our Division to be called off – and once we know of a re-arranged date it will be announced here.
Next home game is Thursday evening (7.30pm) v Bargoed.

Neath make four changes for the visit to Maesteg Quins on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).

The Neath team will be :-

15 Iestyn Morgan; 14 Luke Griffiths, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 James Roberts; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Nicky Griffiths; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Steffan Jones; 4 Matthew Davies, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Tomi Antozzi, 8 David Griggs, 7 Scott Malone

Replacements: 16 Gareth Lloyd, 17 Iestyn Jones, 18 Ben Lukes, 19 Macauley Griffiths, 20 Matthew Jones

NEATH RFC FUN BUS – MAESTEG QUINS – SATURDAY 29th FEBRUARY 2020.

Let’s take a lot of support to MAESTEG QUINS and back the boys!

Supporters bus to MAESTEG QUINS on SATURDAY 29th FEBRUARY 2020 – leaving The Clubhouse at 12:30 for the 2:30pm Kickoff, returning from MAESTEG QUINS an hour after the game.

To book YOUR seat on the “FUN BUS” contact Mark Davies on mark_davies715@hotmail.com via Facebook & Twitter or ➡️ by telephone on: 07496308147

MATCH REPORT: BEDWAS 26 NEATH 33 – FEBRUARY 22nd, 2020

BEDWAS 26 NEATH 33
Neath, playing with pride, passion and no little panache, earned a very well-deserved win over Bedwas. The home side have endured a harrowing week with the Bridge Field and clubhouse calamitously flooded so this was Neath’s first visit to the wonderful all-weather facilities at Ystrad Mynach which Bedwas normally use for training.

Having lost to the last kick of the return game at The Gnoll in October, Neath were seeking revenge and, from the outset the game was played at great pace. Apres la deluge (it was French weekend !) both sides seemed to enjoy their rugby action in a real thriller which kept everyone on their toes throughout and there were four tries apiece.

Fast out of the blocks, Neath set the pace and a fine break by outside-half Jordan Rees paved the way for a smart opening try by winger James Roberts. But almost immediately a defensive mix-up let in Bedwas for their first try by that excellent flanker James Richards which Dion McIntosh easily converted. Neath put together some sustained, effective play and, before being injured, skipper Aaron Bramwell just fed winger Luke Griffiths too early before the winger kicked a penalty to give the Blacks a deserved lead.

Despite facing the wind, the Blacks continued to enjoy the better of things up to half-time and great top of the line-out ball to Elis Horgan gave the 17 year old scrum-half the opportunity to split the defence and he raced to the posts for Neath’s second try which Luke Griffiths converted. Neath kept possession and should probably have put the ball off the park before Bedwas turned the ball over and No.8 Dale Rogers nipped in for their second try which McIntosh converted to make it 15-14 at half-time – a lead which by no means flattered the Blacks whose discipline gave them a slight edge.

After the interval, Neath squandered two good positions – line-out and scrum – in the Bedwas 22 but went further ahead when Luke Griffiths landed a second penalty. No sooner had play re-started than Neath bagged their third try. Good work by Roberts and Griffiths saw the latter rewarded for his persistence – a lesson for all – when his chase and harrying led to a third try which raised his 100 points for the year and it was 23-14.

Griffiths blotted his copybook by missing a kick and instead the home side came again. After lock Jon Barley conceded a high tackle, a rocket-fuelled home line-out drive saw Rogers notch his second try to make it 23-19. Neath were far from done though and a quickly-taken penalty by Horgan came to nothing before Neath charged down two Bedwas defensive kicks only for the ball to drop obligingly into Bedwas hands on each occasion. This spurred on the home side and a wonderful break out and chip by scrum-half Owain Keane saw winger Gordon Collins collect and bag their bonus point try.

Suddenly Neath were behind at 23-26 but the visitors were in determined mood. They continued to take the game to Bedwas and swept up-field again; home skipper Jon Armitage was binned and Luke Griffiths levelled the scores with his third penalty. From the re-start a brilliant surging run by replacement flanker Ben Lukes with Nicky Griffiths in support carried play to the 22 and tip-top passing saw flanker Tomi Antozzi free winger Roberts who outpaced the cover to touch down for his second try.

Luke Griffiths added the crucial conversion points and missed a long range kick but, with Matthew Jones on from the bench for his first action since rejoining the Blacks in the summer and Bedwas now unable to scent a win, the visitors pushed on to claim the points from a side who are two places above them in the table.

This splendid all-action game of rugby football was uplifting. Both sides were skilled and organised : Bedwas were grand and will have been glad to get back on the field; for Neath the win should heighten the team’s belief and ambition. It clearly meant a lot too to the Blacks’ intrepid band of supporters who have stuck with the team in numbers through many difficult days.

Neath will train with a smile this week. The Blacks must be positive – no resting on laurels – and there are still areas to work on because, as the Blacks know to their cost, any lapses of concentration or looseness of approach will be eagerly seized upon by Maesteg Quins at South Parade next week.

BEDWAS – J.Hallett; G.Collins, M.Williams, L.Bowden, J.Rees (R.Morgans); D.McIntosh, M.Bancroft (O.Keane); T.Devine (L.Davies), M.Dacey, K.Williams (R.Hutcherson); D.Hudd, G.Allen; J.Richards (J.Hayward), D.Rogers, J.Armitage (capt)
NEATH – A.Bramwell (capt) (N.Griffiths); L.Griffiths, B.Atkins, M.Pearce, J.Roberts; Jordan Rees (M.Jones), E.Horgan; B.Uphill (G.W.Lloyd), S.Crocker, S.Jones; J.Blackmore, J.Barley; T.Antozzi, D.Griggs, S.Malone (B.Lukes)
Referee – Mr. S.Rees (Ebbw Vale)

MATCH PREVIEW

After the postponement of last week’s game against Cardiff Metropolitan (now re-arranged for Thursday, March 12th, kick off 7.30pm), Neath hope to return to action against Bedwas on Saturday.

With the Bridge Field underwater earlier this week, the game will be played at Ystrad Mynach on the all-weather surface with an early kick off at 1.00pm.

A last-gasp conversion gave Bedwas a 16-14 win at The Gnoll back in October so the Blacks will be looking to turn the tables but to do so will need to be on top form against the third-placed home team.

Neath name much the same team as was selected for last week’s postponed game, the only changes seeing Sion Crocker and Scott Malone return at hooker and flanker respectively.

Neath v Bedwas (Away) 1.00pm
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 Luke Griffiths, 13 Ben Atkins, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 James Roberts; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Elis Horgan; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Steffan Jones; 4 Jacob Blackmore, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Tomi Antozzi, 8 David Griggs, 7 Scott Malone
Replacements – 16 Ifan James, 17 Gareth Wyn lloyd, 18 Ben Lukes, 19 Nicky Griffiths, 20 Matthew Jones

UPDATE

Neath’s game at Bedwas has now been confirmed and will go ahead on the all-weather pitch at Ystrad Mynach with the kick off at the original time of 1.00pm.

There is adequate parking available at the ground for those supporters travelling.

Team news will follow here as usual after training on Thursday evening.

CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence
Caerphilly Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7EP
Parking from 11.30am

Storm Dennis wreaked havoc across South Wales at the weekend when nearly all rugby matches were off and many clubs have suffered damage through flooding.

“All at Neath RFC were dismayed to see the damage done by “Storm Dennis” to all clubs but particularly our old friends Bedwas and Cross Keys RFC’s and I have offered both Clubs any help we can,” said Neath secretary Mike Price.

“As regards Bedwas, we are due to play there on Saturday so Dave Cousins, their secretary, and I are going to stay in touch over the next few days and will keep supporters updated.”

Any developments will be reported here.

NEATH-CARDIFF MET RE-ARRANGED

Neath and Cardiff Metropolitan have swiftly re-arranged the postponed Championship match which will now take place at The Gnoll on Thursday, March 12th with a 7.30pm kick off.

More immediately, the Blacks visit Bedwas next Saturday (1.00pm) then Maesteg Quins on Saturday, February 29th (2.30pm).
Neath will then return home to The Gnoll to play Bargoed (Thursday, March 5th – 7.30pm), Cardiff Metropolitan (Thursday, March 12th) and Glamorgan Wanderers (Saturday, March 21st).

On the last Saturday in March (28th) it is Bargoed away (2.30pm) – on the same day, The Gnoll will host the WRU National Cup semi-final tie between Aberavon and Merthyr which will kick off at 5.15pm.