NEATH 27 TREBANOS nil
Neath welcomed the New Year with a comfortable bonus point win over Trebanos – and it could be that the patient home supporters saw the beginnings of a fresh dawn at The Gnoll. For Neath fielded a back division containing three teenagers making their first starts – Iestyn Morgan and two debutants Elis Horgan and Sam Court all had splendid games and a fourth, Ben Lukes, played a starring role in a dominant pack.
With flu in the Neath camp and the “Swansea mumps” forcing the influential Iwan Davies out, both sides made changes but Neath started the game full of energy and running and winger James Roberts ought to have scored but opted for contact. The Blacks kept possession and, ten minutes in, their scrum generated a mighty heave and scrum-half Elis Horgan nipped in to mark his debut with a try which brought a broad grin of approval from proud father Pat, the Neath coach.
Callum Hall converted and the outside-half soon added a penalty but there was no further score in the first-half as the Blacks, for all their set-piece advantage, dropped off the pace and could not add to their score. Trebanos wre battling hard but by half-time the writing was on the wall for Trebanos as the Neath eight were going great guns at the scrum with the front row of Ben Uphill, acting captain Sion Crocker and Steffan Jones at the fulcrum of a hastily advancing unit. Rhys Morgan’s return alongside Jordan Blackmore in the second row improved the tight play – and later kick-off reception.
Trebanos were nothing if not defiant though and Neath had much to do in the second half. Neath’s forward power continued enabling the back row of Tomi Antozzi, David Griggs and Ben Lukes, an effective line-out operator too, to come into play. Horgan, snapping and sniping behind them, played with considerable aplomb and showed a maturity beyond his tender years – a chip off the old block if ever there was !
Neath needed to inject pace into the game and it came when neat work by Penclawdd centre Sam Court, another young lad who looked perfectly at home, freed James Roberts who needed no second invitation to fly to the line. Trebanos were feeling the squeeze, their flanker Iestyn Davies was binned and their full back was lucky not to join him when a dubious tackle stooped Tomi Antozzi in his tracks as he charged towards the line. The Neath forwards battered away at the ‘Banos line, Griggs twice involved before Blackmore sent centre Matthew Pearce hurtling over for Hall to convert.
Play became a bit over-heated after another late tackle but the bonus point was soon secured. The visitors resorted to uncontested scrums but the Neath eight kept driving and re-cycling and Jordan Rees, an effective full back now operating at outside-half, stepped his way over for the fourth try. Trebanos battled bravely to the end and Neath will not be getting carried away with this result as there were too many imperfections in their play for them to be entirely happy as they seek to keep the pot boiling over 80 minutes – improved line-out accuracy, kicking and harder tackling will be needed next week at Ystrad Rhondda who will be fully charged to avenge their September defeat.
NEATH – Jordan Rees; I.Morgan, S.Court, M.Pearce, J.Roberts; C.Hall (R.Pritchard), E.Horgan; B.Uphill, S.Crocker (Iestyn Jones), S.Jones (L.Tobias); J.Blackmore (Ioan Jones), R.Morgan; T.Antozzi, D.Griggs, B.Lukes
TREBANOS – J.Ferriman; R.Brunton, S.Lewis, L.Davies; S.Davies, Rob Jones (I.Temblett); D.Worth (Ross Jones), R.Thomas (capt), T.Dew (R.Evans); E.Morgan, C.Michael; Iestyn Davies, D.Hills (D.Bale), R.George (G.Spalding) Referee – Mr. A.Parry (Sebastopol, Wales)
Neath kick off 2020 by hosting Trebanos at The Gnoll on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm) in what will be the third meeting of the clubs this season.
Back in September, the Blacks won the season’s opener at Trebanos 23-7 and the following week were victorious again 24-nil at The Gnoll in the National Cup but on both occasions they had to work hard for victory.
The same will be true of Saturday and Trebanos will be in good heart after winning their local derby in the Swansea Valley at Ystalyfera last Saturday 18-10.
There are three changes fore and aft in Neath’s starting line up. Behind the scrum, Iestyn Morgan is on the wing after impressing as a replacement last week, Ben Atkins returns at centre with Elis Horgan coming in for his first start at scrum-half. Up front, Steff Jones returns at tight head prop with Rhys Morgan back in the second row and Ben Lukes takes over at open-side.
Neath v Trebanos (Home) 2.30pm
15 Aaron Bramwell (captain); 14 Iestyn Morgan, 13 Ben Atkins, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 James Roberts; 10 Callum Hall, 9 Elis Horgan; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Steffan Jones; 4 Jacob Blackmore, 5 Rhys Morgan; 6 Tomi Antozzi, 8 David Griggs, 7 Ben Lukes
Replacements – 16 Liam Tobias, 17 Iestyn Jones, 18 Ioan Jones, 19 Nicky Griffiths, 20 Jordan Rees
Referee – Mr. Aaron Parry (Sebastopol, Wales)
Gates Open 1.45pm, Admission – Adults £8, Under-16’s FREE