BRIDGEND 78 NEATH 5
Humiliating defeat at Bridgend was the outcome of the Neath Loyalists’ heroic efforts to field a team in the midst of their well-documented ownership problems.
Over 147 years – 154 for the purists – Neath’s fortunes have never been so low and the question must be asked how much more heart-break and punishment must the team and its supporters take.
The weak winter sun which greeted the teams was as pallid as Neath’s hopes against an organised Bridgend side that beat Aberavon – just – last time out.
Other than a neatly taken try by winger James Roberts – to huge cheers from the Neath support who travelled in good numbers – it was virtually one-way traffic.
For the record, Osprey Cai Evans gathered 33 points via 2 tries, 10 conversions and a penalty and other scores came from ex-Neath pair Aaron Grabham (2) and Jordan Collier, Ospreys’ duo Jack Pope and Connor Tantum (2), Nathan Edwards, Ben Jones and Iestyn Merriman.
But it all felt pretty hollow and the abiding memory will not be of the football played but of the repeated chants of “We Want Cuddy Out” from disgruntled Neath supporters who made their feelings plain.
Few Neath supporters questioned the commitment of the men in black, 17 of the 23 being on permit from 12 different clubs. Indeed, several did enough to suggest that they deserve further opportunities.
Recruiting around 75% of the squad from outside is a clear measure of how hard Neath’s beleaguered team of Loyalists worked to fulfil the fixture – but was it worth the trouble ? It really must not go on !
Neath have pulled out all the stops to field a team at Bridgend on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).
Into the starting line-up come three Aberdare lads Garyn Payne and brothers Jordan and Jarrad Rees who have all played for Pontypridd while newly-transferred Glynneath lock Ioan Jones comes into the second row with former Bedwas man Craig Hill in the back row.
Captain Aaron Bramwell said, “Our remaining boys have pulled together but, with the injuries arising from the Llanelli game, our numbers are even more depleted. However, new players have taken the opportunity and will wear the Neath jersey with pride and we are very grateful to their clubs for releasing them on permit.”
Neath v Bridgend (Away)
15 Garyn Payne; 14 James Roberts, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Aaron Bramwell (captain), 11 Alec Jenkins; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Nathan Griffiths; 1 Adam Nation, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Tyla Murvai; 4 Lee Evans, 5 Ioan Jones; 6 Craig Hill, 8 Elis Hopkins, 7 Ceri White