NEATH 26 points MAESTEG nil
In torrential rain, Neath and Maesteg served up some decent pre-Christmas entertainment for a small crowd of wet-weather supporters.
Neath, as could be expected, were comfortable winners by 4 tries to nil – hooker and captain for the day Aled Morris and scrum-half Chris Morgans crossing for first-half tries, both converted by Ed Howley who thus passed 100 points for the season.
In the second-half, the full back scored a try which he converted himself and, after wingers Aaron Grabham and James Williams both lost the ball in the act of touching down in the wet, outside-half Dan Guarneri added a fourth.
In a useful workout, well refereed by Mr. Matthew Davies (Llanelli), two young Neath players making their first starts showed distinct promise – Callum Jones at tight head prop was the fulcrum of a very powerful scrum while Swansea University student Tom Hayward roved the field to great effect.
Behind the scrum, Matthew Pearce and Rory Morgan-Williams were threatening runners while young Tom Sadler (Crynant) and centre Richard Cunniffe showed good skills in difficult conditions
Maesteg, well led by flanker Nathan Watkins, never gave up the ghost and acquitted themselves well and the good feeling between the clubs was underlined afterwards when Neath touch judge for the day John Roberts was re-united with Maesteg great Ray “Chico” Hopkins – the pair played together in the first-ever Wales ‘B’ game in Paris in 1970.
Neath RFC have arranged an additional home game for Saturday against old friends Maesteg RFC who visit The Gnoll for a 2.30pm kick off.
Coach Gareth Llewellyn says, “We were encouraged by Wednesday evening’s 40-23 win against Cardiff and to score six tries in the rain was a good effort. We still have a lot to work on and need to keep playing so Maesteg will be a good challenge for us.
“Neath’s Former Players are gathering pre-match for their Christmas get-together and they will testify that Maesteg have always been a robust side.
“The current team is very well coached by Matthew McCarthy and Karl Hocking and they are capable of causing us problems. Several of their players have Premiership experience too so it should be a keen game.”
Matthew Pearce comes in at centre with James Williams (Neath Athletic) on the wing and Chris Morgans takes over at scrum-half.
Up front, Callum Jones gets the nod at tight-head prop after several promising shows from the bench, and he will have Aled Morris alongside him at hooker as captain. Rhys Jones and Lyndon Bateman come into the second row with Tom Hayward in the back row.
On the bench, Crynant’s Tom Sadler re-appears and is joined by Bonymaen’s Richard Cunniffe and Neath Athletic’s Joseph Williams.
The game (Admission £5, Under-16’s free) is one of few games on locally due to the WRU Plate and, of course, there is no Premiership programme.
Neath v Maesteg (Home)
15 Ed Howley; 14 Aaron Grabham, 13 Rory Morgan-Williams, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 James Williams; 10 Dan Guarneri, 9 Chris Morgans; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Aled Morris (captain), 3 Callum Jones; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Lyndon Bateman; 6 Tom Hayward, 8 Leon Ward, 7 Calum Davies
Replacements –16 Geraint James, 17 Neil White, 18 Ryan Thomas, 19 Joe Williams, 20 Jordan Collier, 21 Tom Sadler, 22 Richard Cunniffe, 23 A.N.Other