RGC 66 points NEATH 3 points
It was very bad – if not quite as bad throughout – as it looks as a patched up Neath side gave of their best and, despite the sending-off of prop Ryan Thomas, held the rampant North Wales side for fully 65 minutes before they collapsed as spectacularly as a row of deckchairs in a Blackpool wind.
Even with 14 men, Neath’s stitched together side battled hard and managed to out-scrummage the home side but were under the cosh in other phases. It was just nil-3 when Thomas received his marching orders in an incident not instigated by him and for which his assailant received only a yellow – which was a bit odd.
There were 38 minutes on the clock before RGC got their first try by Dan Owen and on half-time they added another by Tim Grey, Danny Cross converting both to go with his earlier penalty.
In the second half, Howley banged over a penalty to reach 100 points for the season before Andrew Williams got RGC’s third converted by Botica – a very handy replacement – and the home side got their bonus point through a second try by Owens, Botica converting, with 13 minutes to go.
But Neath were visibly tiring – the loss of their entire back row and numerical deficiency saw RGC move the ball almost at will and, in a grandstand finish, they more than doubled their score with five tries by Deiniol Jones (2), Tom Hughes, Harold Evans and Afan Bagshaw, all converted by Botica. RGC were very clear winners – humiliating but not total ignominy.
RGC – D.Jones; A.Bagshaw, T.Loots, H.Evans, R.Williams (T.Hughes); D.Cross (J.Botica), E.Jones (A.Schwarz); J.Simpson (C.Reynolds), E.Yardley (G.Roberts), J.Scott (C.Connolly); R.Williams (C.Donnelly), M.Edwards (capt); A.Williams, W.Bryan, T.Grey (D.Owens)
NEATH – E.Howley; J.Roberts (S.Stone), S.Griffiths, M.Pearce, G.Llewellyn (C.Griffiths); I.Evans, D.Brown (J.Robbins); B.Uphill (L.Tobias), S.Crocker (capt), R.Thomas; R.Jones (M.Davies), J.Barley; Josh Cole (C.White), A.Cockwell (A.Morris), E.Hopkins (G.James)
Referee – Mr. B.Brakespear (Abercynon)
Neath make their second journey of the season on an international weekend to RGC for a Welsh Premiership fixture which kicks off at 2.00pm at Parc Eirias.
The Blacks are looking to improve on their previous visit back in November when they battled hard but went down 19-31.
Iwan Evans takes over at outside-half from the injured Gavin Evans while Dalton Brown starts at scrum half and Maesteg’s Sam Griffiths plays at centre. Sion Crocker takes over the captaincy and the Blacks are boosted by the return of back rower Josh Cole.
Neath’s team selection has been compromised by the heavy injury-list and by players having difficulty getting off work so there could be debuts off the bench for scrum-half Jak Robbins and centre Conor Griffiths while winger Steffan Stone re-appears.
Neath v RGC (Away)
15 Ed Howley; 14 James Roberts, 13 Sam Griffiths, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 Geraint Llewellyn; 10 Iwan Evans, 9 Dalton Brown; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker (captain), 3 Ryan Thomas; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Elis Hopkins, 8 Josh Cole, 7 Aled Cockwell
Replacements – 16 Liam Tobias, 17 Aled Morris, 18 Geraint James, 19 Matthew Davies, 20 Ceri White, 21 Jak Robbins, 22 Conor Griffiths, 23 Steffan Stone