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Neath RFC

NEATH  47 points  BRIDGEND ATHLETIC  5 points

A hat-trick of tries by flanker Fergus Kneath and one apiece by his brothers Evan and Morgan made it something of a family affair as Neath completed a 7-try win over competitive Bridgend Athletic whose young side gave a good account of themselves at The Gnoll.

This may have been a non-league match but Neath. Short on match practice recently, the Blacks ended their horrible run of 11 defeats against the Division 1 West Central side who were paying their first visit to The Gnoll although the two clubs met in the WRU Cup in 2011/12.

Despite the week’s rains, The Gnoll surface was in excellent condition and Neath were soon into their stride, taking a 7-nil lead after four minutes when Fergus Kneath nipped over for his first try which Steff Williams converted.

After 12 minutes, good work by the outside-half made the space for Neath’s second try,  captain for the day Ben Williams’ splendid support work bringing him the score and Steff Williams again converted to double Neath’s advantage to 14-nil.

Two minutes later and maestro Steff Williams was involved once more and he added the conversion points to Fergus Kneath’s second try and it was 21-nil.

Neath were making most of the running and both lock Thomas John and loose-head prop Mason Morgan on debut showed up well in the loose while scrum-half Gruff Williams and centre Keiran Charles also posed a threat.

Lock Matthew Davies, playing his first game of the season, provided line-out possession for Neath’s fourth try, his fellow forwards driving strongly before hooker Evan Kneath darted up the blind-side to score and it was 26-nil after 20 minutes.

On the half-hour mark, Bridgend Athletic struck back with a try of their own when lock Jonathan Stoker went over for an unconverted try which drew sporting applause from the Neath crowd of just over 500 and it was 26-5.

However, Neath extended their advantage five minutes before half-time when No.8 Morgan Kneath completed the brotherly triple when he strode over for Neath’s fifth try of the half, Steff Williams converting.

Half-time – Neath 33 points Bridgend Athletic 5 points

At half-time, Neath threw on their ‘grenade squad’ (a bit like the Springboks’ ‘bomb squad’ – but not quite as big) in a flurry of substitutions. But Bridgend Athletic started the half stronger with forwards Harrison Morgan, Mike Gillette and Tom Morgan doing some grand work as they maintained possession.

Their front row of Matthew Norman, Ben Owen and Wayne Fooks scrummaged strongly throughout, their young back division showed flashes of inspiration and referee Paul Jones (Ebbw Vale) enjoyed a good game and kept things flowing in an entertaining encounter.

It took Neath until midway through the half to score their sixth try as Steff Williams bounced off away defenders like a demented dodgem and the ever-present Fergus Kneath went over to complete his hat-trick for Williams to convert.

In the final moments of the game, winger James Roberts at last found himself in space and he turned on the after-burners to cross for Neath’s seventh try, Steff Williams’ sixth conversion making it 47-5.

That brought to an end an entertaining afternoon which will have benefited both teams and Neath will now begin preparations for next Saturday’s home game against Swansea (kick off 2.30pm)

NEATH – L.Rees; J.Roberts, A.Bramwell (K.Jones), K.Charles, R.Griffiths (S.Gibson); S.Williams, G.Williams (C.Morgans); M.Morgan (E.Hopkins), E.Kneath (M.Thomas), T.Dabeh (G.W. Lloyd); T.John, M.Davies (C.Arnold); F.Kneath, M.Kneath (J.Blackmore), B.Williams (capt) (D.Ceredig)

BRIDGEND ATHLETIC – S.Govan; M.Grey, T.Jenkins, B.Howe (capt), L.Barron; E.Beach, E.Dadamo; M.Norman, B.Owen, W.Fooks; J.Stoker, H.Morgan; K.Molitika, M.Gillette, T.Morgan Replacements – B.Fooks, L.Griffiths, J.Puaca, A.Thomas

Referee – Mr. P.Jones (Ebbw Vale)

Images courtesy of Len Kowalski