MATCH REPORT: NEATH v BRYNCETHIN (AWAY) – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th, 2021
BRYNCETHIN nil NEATH 36 points
Neath were given a sound examination under Bryncethin’s floodlights on Friday by the battling home side whose prowess suggests that they are worthy of a higher position in Welsh rugby’s pyramid; off-field too their organisation was first class.
On a day when the country’s roads ground to a standstill due to fears of petrol shortages, ultimately Neath had that bit too much in the tank for Bryncethin but the home side’s preparedness and courage shone through on a damp and misty evening.
In fact, the home side managed to keep Neath at bay for fully fifteen minutes at the start before the Blacks discovered their scoring touch. Winger Aaron Grabham, scorer of 27 tries in 38 appearances during a previous stint at The Gnoll, showed his finishing skills as he nipped in for Neath’s first try at the corner.
Five minutes later it was 12-nil as young hooker Morgan Thomas touched down following a strong surge after Jacob Blackmore’s lineout take and outside-half Steff Williams added the conversion points.
That lead increased still further when Neath stretched the defence one way and then the other and a cross-kick resulted in winger James Roberts dabbing down for his third try of the season and, just on half-time, Grabham bagged his second, Steff Williams’ splendid conversion extending the Blacks’ lead to 24-nil.
Neath were soon on the attack again after half-time and a fine run by the dangerous Roberts with eager support on the inside saw scrum-half Macauley Griffiths flash over between the posts for Neath’s fifth try which Williams converted.
Thereafter, Neath enjoyed most of the play but a combination of poor execution, a tendency not to do the simple thing and tenacious Bryncethin defence kept them at bay.
In the latter department home hooker Dafydd Evans and the back row trio of Bridgeman, Hunnam and Griffiths worked hard. Half backs captain Lloyd Bradley, brother Cai and his replacement the experienced Geraint Watkin did well too despite often being under pressure especially after having a man red-carded midway through the second-half by efficient referee Mr. Morgan who brooked no nonsense in a keenly competitive affair.
The Neath eight, featuring young guns Morgan Thomas, Ross O’Connor and Ciaran Comerford, had the edge without ever completely subduing the home pack. Jacob Blackmore was a capable lineout operator and relished a rare outing in the back row where he had a willing ally in the returning Gareth Jones.
When necessary, Neath defended their line admirably and did not concede a point but in attack Neath were guilty of some careless handling. Too often blind alleys were sought when clearer paths beckoned and, sad to say, some white-line fever crept in.
That was the case with Neath’s last try, a chance being squandered on the right before Neath scrum-power paved the way for full back Luke Griffiths to atone by stepping his way over wide out on the left.
Both teams will have benefited from playing and were agreed that it was far better than a blank weekend or a training session – Bryncethin did themselves proud, a healthy crowd enjoyed it and, if the opportunity arises, they will be welcome at The Gnoll.
BRYNCETHIN – G.Davies; S.Howells, D.Howells, I.Veasey, C.Gibson; L.Bradley (capt), C.Bradley; C.Buckle, D.Evans, I.Davies; T.Hunt, M.Thomas; R.Bridgeman, E.Hunnam, M.Griffiths Repl. S.Jervis, L.Sylvester, R.Rees. L. John, R.Morgan, G.Watkin, S.Ryall, S.Owen
NEATH – L.Griffiths; A.Grabham, J.Bayliss, B.Atkins, J.Roberts; S.Williams (D.Langdon), M.Griffiths; J.Powell (G.W.Lloyd), M.Thomas, T.Ryan (capt); S.Langford (D.Ceredig), R.O’Connor; J.Blackmore, G.Jones, C.Comerford Referee – Mr. G.Morgan (Swansea)
Neath RFC travel to Bryncethin on Friday evening (kick off 7.15pm) and must not under-estimate the home team who are unbeaten with two massive wins over Glyncorrwg (92-3 away) and Maesteg (88-nil at home) among their credits.
Coach Pat Horgan makes wholesale changes to Neath’s starting line-up but has not strayed too far from the squad.
Prop Tim Ryan will captain the side for the first time and Neath draft in winger Aaron Grabham on permit from Kenfig Hill – in a previous incarnation, Aaron scored 27 tries in 38 appearances for Neath.
Supplying finishing power on the opposite flank is James Roberts and Luke Griffiths switches to full back while Jon Bayliss and Ben Atkins team up at centre. Steff Williams is partnered by Macauley Griffiths at half-back.
The pack is a blend of youth and experience with Jack Powell, Morgan Thomas and Tim Ryan forming the front row. Sam Langford partners Ross O’Connor in the second row with Jacob Blackmore in the back row alongside Ciaran Comerford and Gareth Jones who returns having completed his teacher training.
The forwards on the replacements’ bench are yet to be finalised but will feature Kelvan Ashby whose work commitments have ruled him out since signing.
Neath v Bryncethin (Away)
15 Luke Griffiths; 14 Aaron Grabham, 13 Jon Bayliss, 12 Ben Atkins, 11 James Roberts; 10 Steffen Williams, 9 Macauley Griffiths; 1 Jack Powell, 2 Morgan Thomas, 3 Tim Ryan (captain); 4 Sam Langford, 5 Ross O’Connor; 6 Jacob Blackmore, 8 Gareth Jones, 7 Ciaran Comerford
Replacements – Nicky Griffiths, David Langdon and (forwards from) Gareth Lloyd, Josh Clark, Kelvan Ashby, Jon Barley, Alun Jones, David Griggs, Owain Morgan, Dyfan Ceredig,
Referee – Mr. Greg Morgan (Swansea)
Match Information – Bryncethin RFC (CF32 9YF)
Admission – Adults & Pensioners £3; Under-16’s FREE
Refreshments – full range available inside the ground – CASH NOT CARDS !