MATCH REPORT: (19/12/2015) NEATH 33 MAESTEG 15

Neath and Maesteg made light of the rains to give supporters some early Christmas cheer at The Gnoll.

On top of all their long-term injuries, Neath made 11 changes from the side which started at Carmarthen Quins in midweek, handing debuts to winger Jack Anderson, outside-half Dan Guarneri and lock Curtis Lynch and first starts to flanker Jack Davies and scrum-half Will Thomas.

Maesteg had first use of the strong wind and took the lead with a try by centre Ed Howley who converted himself. Neath soon levelled with a try by centre Dean Howell which Guarneri converted but Howley nudged Maesteg back in front with a well-judged penalty.

With so many changes in their line-up, Neath were not hitting their stride but winger Josh Jones pushed them into a lead which they would not lose when he scored a second try which Guarneri converted.

The Neath forwards had the ascendancy in the scrums and, with Maesteg pegged in their 22, home No.8 Leon Ward dabbed down for a pushover try to make it 19-10 at the interval.

In the second-half, Maesteg pulled back a try by former Neath man Keiron Mattocks but that was as good as it got for the visitors as Neath climbed away with late tries by star man and No.8 Leon Ward – his second pushover effort – and by replacement flanker James Bain, Guarneri converting both.

Bain’s try was the best of the match and was the culmination of a sweeping movement which heavily featured both replacement props Aled Humphreys and Roy Jones and scrum-half Will Thomas.

As both teams and supporters repaired to the warmth and dry of the Clubhouse, the two sides can contemplate forthcoming Boxing Day derbies – Maesteg entertain Maesteg Quins (2.30pm) while Neath host Aberavon (kick off 4.15pm).