NEATH 43 RESOLVEN nil
Neath built on their 33-5 win over London Welsh with a 7-try win over neighbouring Resolven who battled gamely for most of the proceedings and who, in truth, deserved better than the final scoreline suggests.
The Blacks made an unprecedented 14 changes to their starting line-up with lock Rhys Morgan the only survivor as the coaches gave opportunities to the many youngsters who have trained hard with the Welsh All Blacks over the summer. Brothers Steff and Iestyn Jones figured alongside each other in the front row and Dan Guarneri led the side.
The Blacks started strongly and took the lead with a try from a scrum by No.8 David Griggs after 12 minutes but there was an understandable lack of cohesion early on.
Resolven then enjoyed a good spell with skipper Niki Reed and No.8 Ashley Morgan leading the charge and ex-Neath and Aberavon star Richard Carter bringing his centres Joe Healey and Darren Bowen into play; in fact, they might very well have taken the lead had they not been recalled for a forward pass.
As Neath warmed to their task, No.8 Griggs again showed that he knows his way to the try-line popping up to score his second try which acting-captain Dan Guarneri goaled and, when the Neath backs got outside the visiting defence, a good run by speedy wing Ben Griffin saw full back Callum Hall touch down and Guarneri added the extras with a splendid kick from wide out.
Resolven were not done though and pressed hard on the Neath line but lock Morgan executed a perfect steal, the danger was averted and a turnover won by flanker Jordan Coxley saw Neath move the ball speedily and Hall bagged his second try for 24-nil.
As the game wore on, Resolven tired and tested the patience of the referee but Neath began to dominate. Sion Summers lost the ball over the line before Ben Griffin raced over for a fine corner try which replacement full back Luke Griffiths goaled from the touchline.
With their young forwards asserting themselves, Neath were now well on top and good work by replacements Calim Bowen and Macauley Griffiths set up a second chance for the sharp Ben Griffin’s second try, Luke Griffiths repeating his touchline trick for the conversion points.
On the stroke of time, centre Matthew Pearce showed his strength to collect the seventh try but Luke Griffiths inexplicably missed the conversion with a drop-kick to end a useful work-out for both clubs which provided good entertainment for another healthy crowd which would have been the envy of several Premiership clubs.
Neath now move on to their next challenge against Swansea on Thursday, August 29th (7.15pm).
Starting line-ups :-
NEATH – C.Hall; B.Griffin, W.Holley, Jarrad Rees, J.Roberts; D.Guarneri (capt), G.Workman; G.W.Lloyd, I.Jones, S.Jones; D.Millard, R.Morgan; J.Coxley, D.Griggs, B.Lukes
RESOLVEN – N.Davies; C.Sandry, J.Healey, D.Bowen, K.Jones; R.Carter, N.Murphy; R.Jones, N.Reed (capt), J.Dowley; R.Davies, S.Martin; D.Stokes, A.Morgan, C.Pearce
Referee – Mr. S.Edwards (Abercrave)
Photo courtesy of @ValleyBoyPics
It is virtually all change for Neath who continue their pre-season build up when they entertain Resolven at The Gnoll on Tuesday evening (kick off – 7.00pm).
Coaches Pat Horgan, Matthew Jones and Andrew Howell have named a much-changed side to take on the Neath Valley club as they seek to involve all the squad who have trained hard over the summer.
Amidst 14 starting changes, only player to retain his place is hard-working lock Rhys Morgan while two places are left vacant pending permit confirmations.
Outside-half Dan Guarneri will lead the team for the first time and Pat Horgan said, “Everybody was pleased to start off with Saturday’s 33-5 win over London Welsh although a lot more work is clearly needed to bring us up to the standards expected of Neath RFC.
“This is an important step in our build-up and Resolven are a well-coached side who will test our resolve and ambition at this early stage.”
Neath v Resolven (Home) 7.00pm
15 Callum Hall; 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Will Holley, 11 A.N.Other; 10 Dan Guarneri (captain), 9 Geraint Workman; 1 Gareth Wyn Lloyd, 2 Iestyn Jones, 3 Steffan Jones; 4 Dafydd Millard, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Jordan Coxley, 8 A.N.Other, 7 Ben Lukes
Replacements – TBC