NEATH 21 SWANSEA 48
Another spirited performance from Neath was not enough as they went down to a 3 tries to 6 defeat at The Gnoll. As rumours intensify about the club ownership, Neath produced another gritty display but Swansea’s greater organisation which has brought them their best Premiership run for many years saw them home.
But there was much to commend in this Neath performance. The forwards scrummaged powerfully as the front row of Ben Uphill, Sion Crocker and Tyla Murvai got the better of the vaunted Swansea trio comprising the regionally experienced Tom Sloane and Neath’s Ifan Phillips and Greg Cunniffe… and the Neath replacement threesome of Gareth Wyn Lloyd, Connah Vaughan and Keiran Griffiths relished the exchanges later on too.
Behind them, Rhys Morgan and the evergreen Lee Evans provided the grunt and the back row of Craig Hill, Aled Cockwell and Alun Jones worked their socks off. Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths again operated shrewdly and outside-half Callum Hall kicked perfectly, his two touchline conversions being particularly fine strikes.
Neath fell behind early on, the home tackling lacking as full back R. Rhys Williams crossed, Stef Williams converting. Swansea had strong ball carriers in Fox, Kiley and ex-Neath man Charlie Davies but they were not having it all their own and it was not until the 25th minute that they scored their second try through Phillips, Stef Williams converting before adding a penalty on the half-hour.
Neath were growing as the game progressed and they earned their reward on half-time when a strong forward surge produced a try for Alun Jones who touched down with fellow flanker Hill in close attendance. Hall’s splendid touchline conversion made it 7-17 at half-time.
A Ben Cambriani try converted by Williams settled the bonus point for Swansea but Neath refused to be subdued. The referee had resorted early on to tit-for-tat penalties at the scrums and, when he yellow-carded Uphill and Cunniffe,the pair left the field grinning like a pair of naughty schoolboys but Swansea were unable to hold the Neath scrum and the referee awarded the Blacks a well-deserved penalty-try. However, Swansea struck with two tries by J.Rhys Williams either side of a dropped goal by Stef Williams who converted the first, Luke Griffiths converting the second.
The result was established but Neath were still playing with drive though and when replacement lock Ioan Jones won line-out ball, the forwards took on the initiative and prop Gareth Wyn Lloyd powered over at the Union end for his first try which Hall again goaled immaculately from the touchline. However, Neath’s concentration wavered at the re-start and Swansea had the last word with a try by ex-Neath centre Mike Evans, Griffiths converting to end a game of spotless goal-kicking and much entertainment.
NEATH – Jordan Rees; James Roberts (John Lumb), Jarrad Rees, Aaron Bramwell (captain), Alec Jenkins, Callum Hall, Nicky Griffiths (Nathan Griffiths), Ben Uphill (Gareth Wyn Lloyd), Sion Crocker (Connah Vaughan), Tyla Murvai (Kieran Griffiths); Lee Evans, Rhys Morgan (Ioan Jones); Craig Hill (Leon Ward), Aled Cockwell, Alun Jones (Dyfan Ceredig)
SWANSEA – R.R.Williams (R.Griffiths); G.Rees, M.Evans, J.R.Williams, B.Cambriani; S.Williams, T.Ham (C.Morgans); T.Sloane (J.Powell), I.Phillips, G.Cunniffe (M.Walsh); S.Kiley (M.Dodd),’ J.Williams; C.Davies, J.Fox (capt) (D.Eager), C.Bowden
Referee : Mr. A.Liddington (Abertillery)
Neath take on near-neighbours Swansea at The Gnoll on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).
With speculation rife about the Club’s ownership, Neath supporters have been rallying behind the team which this week features just four changes from last week’s starting line-up.
Behind the scrum, centre Jarrad Rees comes in for Gavin Evans. Up front Lee Evans returns to the second row with Aled Cockwell and Alun Jones in the back row.
Neath v Swansea (Home)
15 Jordan Rees; 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Aaron Bramwell (captain), 11 Alec Jenkins, 10 Callum Hall, 9 Nicky Griffiths, 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Lee Evans, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Craig Hill, 8 Aled Cockwell, 7 Alun Jones
Replacements from – Connah Vaughan, Gareth Wyn Lloyd, Lewis Price, Keiran Griffiths, Ioan Jones, Leon Ward, Dyfan Ceredig, Nathan Griffiths, Jon Lumb, Gavin Evans