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Neath RFC

Plucky Neath came away from Llandovery with an unlikely last-gasp bonus point but, after a bold start, the Blacks never really looked like winning.

An all-action opening saw Neath take the lead after just two minutes when winger Dafydd Howells made up for his disappointment at having a match-winning try disallowed against Pontypridd by touching down for the game’s opening score.

Young outside-half Iwan Evans converted and he soon gave Neath a 10-nil lead when he landed a penalty after good work by centre Dean Howell. But Llandovery quickly established set-piece superiority and they set about reducing Neath’s advantage.

Tries by No. 8 Richard Brooks, centre Rhodri Jones and outside-half Jack Maynard who converted three – interspersed by a second Evans penalty for Neath – made it 24-12 to the Church Bankers at half-time which both teams reached with 14 men after Howell and home flanker Shaun Miles were sin-binned by referee Mr. Dewi Phillips who made a promising Premiership debut.

In the second-half, Llandovery extended their lead with a Maynard penalty. But a combination of wasteful kicking and occasionally poor handling meant that the home side did not threaten over-much.

From front to back, Neath put in a worthy shift of defensive doggedness and they saw to it that their line remained intact and the Church Bankers failed to get the bonus point try.

As the game entered its final phases with both sides fully exploiting their replacements’ benches, Neath suddenly burst into life. No. 8 Calum Davies all but forced his way over the try-line from a short-range scrum only for Neath to be penalised at the next scrum.

Then a Neath take against the head led to a penalty, followed by the now- obligatory kick to touch, lineout, catch and drive and replacement scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams touched down wide out just minutes after coming on for his debut.

It was a proud moment for the Ysgol Gyfun, Ystalyfera and Neath Athletic product and, although Joel Matavesi’s conversion was wide, the try was sufficient to give Neath a bonus-point.