NEATH 14 pts MOSELEY 12 pts
Two fine tries by livewire scrum-half Scott Gibson helped Neath continue their pre-season preparations with a hard-fought win over a good Moseley side at The Gnoll on Friday evening.
Despite the day’s rains, The Gnoll was in prime condition and looked a picture as an appreciative crowd welcomed Moseley to Neath for the first time since 1991.
Moseley, paying their first visit to The Gnoll since 1991, have brought in a lot of players over the summer and are expected to be among the front-runners in National League 1 again this year.
From the outset an evenly-fought encounter looked to be on the cards as the two sides grappled to gain the edge.
Neath, showing 8 changes from the side which started the previous week’s 38-17 win at Ystalyfera, enjoyed a distinct scrum superiority which was matched by Mosley’s heavy driving maul.
It was this tactic which gave the Birmingham-based side the lead on 15 minutes when lock Lewis Bean was boomed over the line for a try converted by former Bedwas outside-half James Dixon.
Neath wasted no time in drawing level as, opting for an attacking scrum from a penalty in the shadow of the Moseley posts, Leon Ward cleverly fed Scott Gibson who stepped past three defenders to score at the posts in a style reminiscent of Martyn Davies or Carl Gnojek in the past.
Outside-half Iwan Evans who played an intelligent game throughout converted and it was all-square.
Neath were beginning to play with authority with centre Richard Smith taking some holding in midfield and Neath’s scrum, based on the solid front-row of Ben Uphill, Aled Morris and Geraint James, was a potent force.
When Neath forced a line-out near the Moseley line, new lock Ryan Bean, an impressive home debutant, won the contest and the alert Gibson scampered up the narrow side for his second try.
Iwan Evans goaled superbly from the touchline to put Neath 14-7 up but Moseley’s juggernaut pack cut the arrears with another driving maul try by former Cardiff Met hooker Ryan Roach.
It was 14-12 at half-time and that was how it stayed throughout a compelling second-half when Neath’s gritty defence held firm and every man put in a shift with Rhys Jones and captain Jordan Collier always in the thick of it.
Matthew Pearce was a tower of strength while Iwan Evans and his young partner Dalton Brown played with a maturity that belies their tender years.
Moseley held the territorial advantage but Neath tackled like demons and in attack created the better scoring chances of the half.
The Blacks nearly squeezed in at the left corner and, just before the end, nearly capped a fine display but replacement full back Ed Howley’s pass failed to find the unmarked James Roberts outside him.
The really inspiring aspect for the Blacks was that the team – established men and young newcomers alike – showed all the skills and determination which is the Neath heritage.
All told, a battling win – very encouraging for The Gnoll faithful – but Neath must keep their feet firmly on the floor : there is still much to improve upon before their final warm-up game at Narberth next Saturday and Pembrokeshire’s finest always enjoy an upset.
NEATH – D.Guarneri (E.Howley); J.Roberts, R.Smith (B.Atkins), G.Evans (M.Pearce), G.Llewellyn; I.Evans, S.Gibson (C.Morgans, D.Brown); B.Uphill, A.Morris (J.Davies), G.James; R.Jones, R.Bean (M.Davies); J.Collier (capt), L.Ward, E.Hopkins (C.White)
MOSELEY – S.Hollingsworth; R.Beddows, T.Molenaar, O.Allsopp, M.Harrison; J.Dixon, S.Brown; J.Boyce, R.Roach, J.Tideswell; A.Croft, L.Bean; J.Le Roux, C.Moore, L.Cowen
Referee– Mr.W. Davies (Llannon)
Neath host Moseley (kick off 7.45pm) at The Gnoll on Friday as Jordan Collier’s team step up their preparations after last week’s 38-17 win at Ystalyfera.
Back on duty are full back Dan Guarneri, wing Geraint Llewellyn and centre Gavin Evans while scrum-half Scott Gibson makes his bow. Up front, prop Ben Uphill and new lock Ryan Bean start along with Aled Morris who comes in at flanker.
Neath coach Gareth Llewellyn said, “Friday’s game with Moseley will be a real challenge as they are a very big, powerful outfit. It is a rare chance for the supporters to see an English side at The Gnoll and we’ll need to pull out all the stops.”
Neath v Moseley
15 Dan Guarneri; 14 James Roberts, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Geraint Llewellyn; 10 Iwan Evans, 9 Scott Gibson; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Geraint James; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Ryan Bean; 6 Jordan Collier (captain), 8 Leon Ward, 7 Aled Morris Replacements From :- Callum Jones, A.N. Other, Matthew Davies, Elis Hopkins, A,N. Other, Dalton Brown, Ben Atkins, Matthew Pearce, Ed Howley
Referee – Mr. Wayne Davies (Llanon)
** NEATH’s PREMIERSHIP season kicks off on Saturday August 26th at 7:30pm at The Gnoll vs Swansea RFC with further home games scheduled for September against RGC (9th) and Llanelli (23rd). Season tickets are still available and cover all home Premiership matches