Neath came away from the Talbot Athletic Ground last night defeated by their local rivals, Aberavon during the British and Irish Cup qualifier. Aberavon will now fight to represent the Ospreys region in the British and Irish Cup as they take on Bridgend on 6th Sept at the Brewery Field.
Neath came away with their heads held high, knowing exactly what they needed to do to improve upon, their set piece being one as the Wizards dominated the scrum throughout both halves.
As the Wizards commanded the scrum with a big front row, including the young Ospreys tight head prop Nicky Thomas while also forcing themselves up field with their powerful driving line out, often ending in points.
Neath started strong as Callum Thomas, Ryan Evans and Ashley Evans putting in a good defensive shift as the Wizards charged forward. But their efforts were not enough as ten minutes in, Dan Davies takes a quick tap penalty allowing David Evans to cross the line. The try is converted by Ceiron Thomas taking the score to 7-0.
Neath now hungry for points, get stuck in as Lloyd Phillips smashes into the Averavon defence, stopping the Wizards in their tracks, as Callum Thomas gains a quick turnover as Neath 22 gets the ball, pounding the red defence. Neath’s efforts are awarded by a penalty for off the ball contact as Rhodri Cole kicks for touch, landing Neath in Aberavons 10m.
As the pressure is on, the Welsh all blacks put hit after hit into their local opposition as Ryan Evans finds the gap taking Neath into the Wizards 5m. But Neath falter at the breakdown as Aberavon are awarded a penalty allowing them to ease the pressure as the teams return to the half way line.
Aberavon seem to buckle under the Neath pressure as Rob Dudley-Jones holds back a player, resulting in a yellow card from ref, Gwyn Morris.
Aberavon now with only fourteen men feel the pressure once more as Neath return to Aberavon’s 5m. Aberavon hold the defence well as Jordan Collier is held back after making a quick break but the young Osprey Ashley Evans smashes through the red defence and over the line, later to be converted successfully 7-7.
But the level playing field only lasted seconds as Matthew Jenkins storms up pitch, through the Neath defence as John Phillips crosses the line. With the conversion unsuccessful the score now 12-7 leading into half time.
Aberavon dominate in the second half as their set piece comes in to play. The Wizards drive the Neath scrum backwards, providing them with a penalty allowing them to kick to touch taking the hosts into Neath’s 10m. Aberavon then turn on the pressure as their driving lineout edges the Wizards closer but the Neath defence hold well until Aberavon pass down the line allowing Ben Davies to dive over the line, conversion unsuccessful 17-7.
Neath manage to gain some well needed points, as Aberavon give away a penalty allowing Rhodri Cole to add three points, taking the score to 17-10.
But Aberavon complete their win with another try on the 66th minute from the young Osprey Nicky Thomas, conversion unsuccessful 22-10. The Wizards, Ceiron Thomas seals the win with a penalty taking the closing score to 25-10.
Aberavon will now face Bridgend next weekend at the Brewery Field in order to determine who will represent the Ospreys region in the British and Irish Cup.
Neath Director of Rugby, Rowland Phillips commented, ‘it was a pretty disappointing performance and result today for us. If you don’t get parity up front then you are always going to be in for a tough day. The injury before the game and one in the first half didn’t help but they wouldn’t have effected the final result.’
‘There are a number of key players for us that are injured and we’ve now got two weeks to get them back before our first league fixture.’
|Talbot Athletic Ground|