NEATH 10 points BEDWAS 40 points
An impressive Bedwas tore Neath apart in the first half to stack up a 5-try 35-3 interval lead before the All Blacks showed some improvement to at least make a fight of it in the second-half.
Following Gareth Llewellyn’s eve-of-match departure, Neath looked shaken at the start of this game. Just as the effects of the earthquake centred on Cwmllynfell were being felt across South Wales, they conceded a penalty try within four minutes of kick off and had winger Alec Jenkins of all people yellow-carded for trying to stop an unstoppable driving maul travelling at speed.
Four minutes later, Bedwas repeated the trick to set up a try for scrum-half Tom Rowlands, Steffan Jones converting. In the 13th minute the craziness of rugby’s law-interpretations was amply illustrated when Ed Howley got Neath on the board with a penalty. Centre Matthew Pearce was high-tackled, necessitating his replacement by debut-making Ryan Pugh (Aberavon Quins).
Some home supporters were calling for a yellow card which would have been harsh but rugby’s laws cannot be right when foul play – albeit not particularly nasty except for the unlucky Pearce who faces a lengthy lay-off – sees a team remain at full complement while a technical infringement with no injury sees a man binned ?
Bedwas were soon back on the attack though and, after as blatant a piece of obstruction on James Roberts as the officials could possibly ignore (and they missed a lot), flanker James Richards crossed on the other side. Then Rowlands added his second, Jones converting both, and the visitors had the bonus point – to say nothing of the match- neatly parcelled up within 21 minutes.
Neath managed to stem the assault with No.8 Elis Hopkins setting a good example but just before half-time Rowlands completed his hat-trick and Jones converted to make it 35-3.
In the second-half, Neath improved somewhat as the replacements flowed on both sides and it took Bedwas until the 58th minute before they scored next and then only from a pass which was signalled forward by the assistant but over-ruled by the poor referee.
Adam Williams was the fortunate beneficiary but thereafter Neath started keeping the ball and they deservedly got a score back when outside-half Iwan Evans crossed wide out and Howley goaled via the right upright from wide out.
Of the Neath forwards, both hookers Sion Crocker and his debutant replacement young Garin Lloyd (Banwen and Neath College), replacement Ryan Thomas and No.8 Elis Hopkins were good; behind, the two scrum-halves Scott Gibson and another teenager Dalton Brown were clever and Ryan Pugh had a promising first game too.
It was actually 7-5 to Neath in the second-half but small consolation as well-drilled Bedwas had it all sewn up in the first-half and there was never any realistic hope of toppling it.
Lyn Jones commences his duties on Monday and evidently there is a lot to do with a trip to Cardiff (kick off 11.30am) next Saturday.
Neath entertain Bedwas in the Welsh Premiership on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).
Alec Jenkins, Gavin Evans and Scott Gibson return behind the scrum with Geraint James, Matthew Davies and Aled Morris coming into the pack. Chris Morgans returns to the bench where he is joined by Neath College prospect Garin Lloyd and Aberavon Quins outside-half Ryan Pugh.
Neath v Bedwas (Home)
15 Ed Howley; 14 James Roberts, 13 Matthew Pearce, 12 Gavin Evans (captain), Alec Jenkins; 10 Iwan Evans, 9 Scott Gibson; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Geraint James; 4 Matthew Davies, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Rhys Jones, 8 Elis Hopkins, 7 Aled Morris
Replacements – 16 Liam Tobias, 17 Garin Lloyd, 18 Ryan Thomas, 19 Ryan Bean, 20 Ceri White, 21 Dalton Brown, 22 Ryan Pugh, 23 Chris Morgans