SWANSEA 25 NEATH 12
Disappointing Neath slipped to a fourth League defeat when they were beaten by Swansea at St. Helen’s in a dour game which produced but one try.
Weather conditions were poor given the weekend’s torrents although the pitch itself was fine. Neath, playing with the wind from the town end, were soon in the ascendancy thanks to their powerful scrum which had Swansea in trouble.
Two long-range penalties by full back Ed Howley fired Neath in front and he quickly added a third to make it 9-nil to the visitors inside 10 minutes
But Swansea countered with what was to be the game’s only try when lock Tudor Hughes barged over near the posts for Luke Griffiths to convert and the full back nudged Swansea ahead with his first penalty of the afternoon before Howley restored Neath’s lead with his fourth penalty to make it 12-10 to Neath at the interval.
That lead was surrendered early in the second-half as Neath, coming under increasing pressure, conceded penalties and Griffiths banged over five kicks in a commendable display which brought him 20 points.
In the midst of it all, Neath threatened occasionally with No.8 Ieuan Jones leading the charge and skipper Scott Andrews lending great support. Regan King, debuting as a replacement, showed his undoubted class which will surely bring benefits in games to come and Neath pegged Swansea in their 22 only for an interception to deny them a try.
Swansea’s stronger line-out driving and Griffiths’ boot were more than enough to keep Neath at bay and the Blacks are now in real trouble in 14th spot. Supporters will be hoping that the team pulls together and raises its effort for next week’s home game with Ebbw Vale to at least salvage something out of the opening month.
Neath make the short trip to St. Helen’s to play Swansea on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm) with both sides seeking their first Premiership win.
After losing at Cross Keys where they gleaned two bonus points and may well have won, the Welsh All Blacks make a number of changes from last week’s starting line-up. Behind the scrum, Scott Gibson returns at scrum half with Ryan Pugh on the wing and Ed Howley at full back.
Up front Ben Uphill, Sion Crocker and Liam Tobias take over in the front row while Jordan Collier and Lloyd Evans are fit to resume in the back row. The replacements’ bench is yet to be confirmed depending on availabilities but may include former New Zealand star Regan KIng.
Neath v Swansea (Away)
15 Ed Howley; 14 Ryan Pugh, 13 Aaron Bramwell, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Ian Ellis; 10 Callum Hall, 9 Scott Gibson; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Liam Tobias; 4 Jon Barley, 5 Scott Andrews (captain); 6 Jordan Collier, 7 Lloyd Evans, 8 Ieuan Jones
Referee – Mr. Gareth Newman (Cardiff)