There can be no hiding the fact that this was Neath’s worst display of the season.
Neath have found wins at Parc-y-Scarlets hard to come by since the stadium was built – and success never looked like coming their way this time around as the Blacks conceded some very soft scores on the way to their sixth defeat in a row.
Teenage outside-half Billy McBryde (son of Wales forwards coach Robyn) gave Llanelli the lead after just six minutes when he took advantage of poor Neath tackling to score at the posts and convert.
Neath hit back with a well-worked try by flanker Jordan Collier but the writing was on the wall when poor defending allowed first full back Jordan Williams and then scrum-half Justin James to cross in quick succession, McBryde converting both, before emergency outside-half Chris Morgans landed a penalty.
But Neath slipped further behind when Jordan James helped himself to a blind-side try against the wheel – it ought really to have been stopped by the Neath back row – and the immaculate McBryde converted before the Blacks enjoyed the satisfaction of scoring the best individual try of the afternoon.
It came from full back Ashleigh Evans who gathered a Llanelli kick, chipped the first defensive line, re-gathered and sped over under the posts for Morgans to convert and at half-time it was 32-16
Neath’s problems were compounded on the re-start when prop Aaron Coundley found his way into the sin-bin for a midfield off-side and McBryde kicked a penalty but, when the home side lost lock Chris Long to the bin, Neath hit back with their third try from a lineout drive by replacement hooker Ieuan Dobbs.
It briefly raised Neath hopes but that was as good as it got as they conceded second-half tries to Justin James who seized on a loose ball to scamper away for his hat-trick and then replacements Declan Smith and Matthew Owen took advantage of more slack defence to score, McBryde completing a full house of conversions to finish with a personal tally of 22 points.
For perhaps the first time this season the healthy Neath contingent in the sparse crowd felt let down and, like everyone associated with the Club, they will be looking for something much better next Saturday when Bridgend come to The Gnoll.
Neath must re-gather their energy and re-focus for that challenge in the knowledge that Bridgend who also have yet to win are struggling every bit as much as Neath – so something has to give!
Neath v Llanelli
15 Ashley Evans; 14 Ian Ellis, 13 Cameron Morris, 12 Ryan Evans, 11 Josh Jones; 10 Chris Morgans, 9 Tom James; 1 Aaron Coundley, 2 Aled Morris, 3 Geraint James; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Jordan Collier (captain), 8 Craig Price, 7 Josh Cole
Replacements (16-23) – A.N. Other, Ieuan Dobbs, Owen Jordan, Leon Ward, Calum Davies, Gareth McCarthy, Dean Howell, Joel Matavesi
Referee – Mr. R. Price (WRU)