YSTALYFERA 17pts NEATH 38pts
Neath launched their pre-season preparations with an encouraging 6 tries to 3 victory at Ystalyfera.
But full marks to Ystalyfera who did themselves proud and proved more than capable deputies for original opponents Skewen.
The thunder showers passed by the Swansea Valley and, in good conditions, it was soon evident that the young Neath side would be extended.
Ystalyfera, the National Plate finalists have a weighty scrum, smooth halves and a neat three-quarter line and, in a scoreless first quarter, honours were even as both sides went close.
Neath opened the scoring when centre Richard Smith celebrated his return to All Black colours by charging over at the posts for a try which Iwan Evans converted.
Ystalyfera struck back when speedy wing Luc Caines – one of five starters in the home line-up who has played for Neath – gathered his own chip ahead to touch down.
But Neath, well led by Jordan Collier, gradually developed their patterns and went 12-5 up at half-time when clever hands saw Tondu wing Aled Jones nip in at the left corner.
There was the anticipated flurry of interval changes and, on the resumption, Neath extended their lead when Mike Evans crossed after good work by centres Atkins and Smith.
Iwan Evans converted and Neath’s fourth try – a really splendid one featuring great linking work – was registered by full back Dan Guarneri.
But Ystalyfera were far from done and, sandwiching a second fine try for Neath by Mike Evans which Geraint Llewellyn converted, home props Jon Williams and Dan White dabbed down, Steffan Castle converting the first, missing the second.
But Neath had the last word when Smith sped away for their sixth try, Llewellyn adding his second conversion to bring to an end a keen opener which was well controlled by Mr. Craig Evans.
Much interest naturally focussed on the newcomers who all made an impression. Mike Evans and Richard Smith were powerful and a real handful throughout.
Colts scrum-half Dalton Brown impressed too as did his replacement Tom Sadler and Dulais Valley centre Ben Atkins.
All three teenagers went close to scoring and indeed would have done so were it not for the admirable never-say-die interventions of the Ystalyfera defenders.
Up front, Owain Morgan and Elis Hopkins did much useful work and new locks Matthew Davies and Ryan Bean showed promise too.
There was an understandable early term rustiness though. Neath created several other scoring chances but did not finish and the Blacks will need to step up several gears ahead of Moseley’s visit to The Gnoll on Friday (kick off 7.45pm).
Ystalyfera played to their strengths and were well served by their pack led by former Gnoll favourite Steffan Jones while halves Nathan Cornelius and Gareth James were composed operators and both sides will have taken much from this first pre-season outing.
NEATH – M.Evans; J.Roberts (D.Guarneri), R.Smith, M.Pearce (B.Atkins), A.Jones (G.Llewellyn); I.Evans, D.Brown (T.Sadler); C.Jones (B.Uphill), S.Crocker (A.Morris), G.James; R.Jones, M.Davies (R.Bean); J.Collier (capt), L.Ward, O.Morgan (E.Hopkins)
YSTALYFERA – S.Castle; L.Caines, J.Bayliss, Martyn Davies, D.Thomas; G.James, N.Cornelius; R.White, O.Phillips, J.Williams; S.Jones, C.Miguel; S.Jones (capt), A.Llewellyn, R.Evans Repl – G.Jones, M.Scott, Marcus Davies, D.White, P.Davies, T.Lewis, N.Astley
Referee : Mr. C. Evans (Glynneath)
Neath visit Ystalyfera (kick off 2.30pm) on Saturday and the starting line-up includes four players making their debuts.
Mike Evans makes his bow at full back while Tondu speedster Aled Jones appears on the wing with young Dalton Brown of Neath Athletic at scrum half and Owain Morgan at flanker. The team is :-
Neath v Ystalyfera
15 Mike Evans; 14 James Roberts, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 Aled Jones; 10 Iwan Evans, 9 Dalton Brown; 1 Callum Jones, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Geraint James; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Matthew Davies; 6 Jordan Collier (captain), 8 Leon Ward, 7 Owain Morgan Replacements :- Ben Uphill, Aled Morris, Ryan Thomas, Ryan Bean, Elis Hopkins, Tom Sadler, Geraint Llewellyn, Ben Atkins, Dan Guarneri
Referee – Mr. Craig Evans (Glynneath)