MATCH REPORT: CARDIFF MET 12 NEATH 33 – 17th MARCH 2023
CARDIFF METROPOLITAN 12 points NEATH 33 points
NEATH, although not at their best, earned another valuable bonus-point win on the road at Cardiff Metropolitan on Friday evening as both sides made light of difficult conditions to serve up an entertaining encounter
Around 100 spectators huddled together in the Cyncoed stand and twice as many again braved the incessant rain and high wind as Neath again took healthy support.
Their endurance was rewarded as the All Blacks took a first minute lead and never relinquished it despite much enterprise from the home side.
After Met botched the kick-off, scrum-half Luc Jones gave Neath the attacking position; the build-up was initially scruffy but, moving the ball expertly through good hands by centre Sean Wilcox and full back Lewis Evans, Neath freed winger Louis Rees who flew in at the corner and outside-half Steff Williams judged a difficult conversion to perfection to give Neath a 7-nil lead.
But the students were back in it when Exeter outside-half Haydn Lidstone spotted space and wing Osian Hill exploited some indecision in the Neath defence to pounce for a try to make it 5-7.
Maybe this score encouraged the Met to kick more than they might – Lidstone is blessed with a big boot but thereafter everything he launched deep at Neath was very efficiently dealt with by full back Lewis Evans, back to his best, and Steff Williams who both caught safely and usually returned with interest while his shorter chips brought little reward against alert Neath coverers.
Neath increased their lead when patient work off the back of an attacking scrum saw the ball re-cycled against a disciplined defence which held firm until Luc Jones spotted a hole and popped through for the All Blacks’ second try near the posts and Steff Williams added the this time simple conversion for 14-5.
There was a lot of “nearly but not enough” from Neath before a splendid run by Sean Wilcox set up the visitors’ third try – receiving the ball just outside his own 10 metre line, the young centre got outside his man and raced over 50 metres before he was halted and popped up the ball to the supporting wing James Roberts who had little more to do than touch down and make it 19-5 at the interval.
On the resumption, the Neath forwards piled on the pressure but the Met defence, well led by No.8 Jack Wickham and Cai Davies, scrapped for everything and, with Jordan Morris and Matthew Iorwerth-Scott a lively pair of props and an organised lineout, they saw to it that Neath’s forwards did not always enjoy their normal authority.
Nevertheless, the All Blacks laid siege to the Met line and several players went within an ace of scoring before Met’s obduracy cracked when No.8 David Griggs touched down from an advancing scrum and Steff Williams added the conversion.
It was the bonus-point fourth try but, even at 26-5, not quite the winning one so Neath kept up the pressure as Steff Williams launched a speculative dropped goal attempt and there was an eye-catching, strong 50-metre run by replacement Jon Bayliss.
Neath’s last try was cleverly constructed – a rehearsed switch move off the back of a scrum led to Lewis Evans sending Steff Williams scurrying between the posts for Neath’s fifth which he converted himself for 33-5.
The game was done but the students were not and they tore back onto the attack where Dragons academy front rower Conor Chapman got the touchdown for Lidstone to convert and bring the score back to 33-12.
Either side might have scored again in a high-speed finish when, to counter a Met attack, the Neath forwards took the opportunity to march a maul 30 metres or so just to show they could before the teams trooped off to a well-deserved hot shower – and the supporters trooped off to toast victory with something a little colder.
Although Neath were not at their most fluent. They maintained reasonable control in the conditions and a lesser side than the Met would have cracked. It was good to see the versatile flanker Dyfan Ceredig home early for Easter while behind the scrum Lewis Evans had a fine game and vied with Sean Wilcox for Neath’s big plus of the night.
* Also on Friday Pontypool beat Tata Steel and on Wednesday Bargoed beat Ystrad Rhondda so there is no change at the top of the table. Neath move on to a home game against Trebanos at The Gnoll on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm). Like the Met, Trebanos will scrap for everything and always run well behind – expect a keen battle !
CARDIFF MET – S.Trodd; B.Parsons, C.Johnson, A.Patterson, O.Hill; H.Lidstone, A.Stacey; J.Morris, T.Coton, M.I. Scott; A.Long, L.Antrobus; B.Jay, J.Wickham (capt), C.Davies Repl. T.Edwards, Z.Roberts, C.Chapman, N.Karea, N.Williams
NEATH – L.Evans; J.Roberts, S.Wilcox, A.Bramwell, L.Rees (J.Bayliss); S.Williams, L.Jones (M.Griffiths); J.Powell (J.Thomas), J.Clark (S.Crocker), T.Ryan; M.Davies, J.Blackmore; E.Hopkins (capt) (M.Kneath), D.Griggs, D.Ceredig
Referee – Mr. R.Jones (Pencoed)
Matchday images courtesy of Jason Clark @jayclark0106