Neath draft in Neath Athletic youngsters James Williams, Dalton Brown, Joseph Williams and Elis Hopkins along with Glynneath’s James Roberts and Conan Doyle.
James Roberts/Conan Doyle, James Williams, Dan Guarneri, Dalton Brown, Joseph Williams, Aled Morris, Elis Hopkins
NEATH 14 points NEWPORT 32 points
Newport took the honours at The Gnoll on Saturday night so here is the Match Report by kind permission of John Evans, Newport RFC:
Neath’s outside half, Gavin Evans, kicked off toward the covered terrace and Newport immediately knocked on. The scrum had barely settled when the referee, Mr Gareth Newman, who officiated at Rodney Parade last Saturday against Llanelli RFC, penalised Newport for turning in the scrum. Up stepped Neath’s deadly accurate full back, Ed Howley for a shot at goal and the opening score of the game. Neath took the lead against Newport 3-0 in the second minute.
Newport launched themselves at Neath in response. Hooker Henry Palmer ran at the defence before setting up the ruck, Ryan James passed the ball right to Adam Brown whose improvised ‘basketball-style’ pass was knocked on by Neath. Number eight Reuben Tucker gathered the ball playing with the advantage but the ball was lost in tackle. A scrum to Neath made it two weeks running where Mr Newman gave very little advantage after an infringement. Further, the Newport scrum was again penalised ensuring all the good approach work was undone.
Newport full back Llywarch ap Myrddin lofted a high ball forward in the 7thminute for Elliot Frewen to chase which, naturally, he did whole-heartedly. He reached the ball first and barged into Neath second row Rhys Jones while successfully wrestling himself and ball to the floor. Ryan James whipped the ball out to flanker Lennon Greggains who showed a tenacity, strength and focus beyond his experience to power over for the opening try of the evening. Geraint O’Driscoll was on hand to kick the conversion to make it Neath 3 Newport 7.
Neath replied by trying to move the ball and probe the Newport defence for gaps, only to find that there were none. Newport were defending on the half way line very well and, as usual, the opposition became frustrated and booted the ball to touch. It was an excellent defensive effort by the Black and Ambers. However, the usually dependable line out was misfiring slightly, an aspect that would need to be tightened up if Newport had aspirations to win the game.
Neath gained a little momentum in the 15th minute as the piled forward but they weren’t particularly doing so in numbers. The only way that ploy was going to work was if they could find a penalty in the tackle situation. It duly came when Mr Newman adjudged Jon Morris as not releasing a tackled player quickly enough. Neath kicked for the line, about fifteen metres out on the cricket club side.
Home scrum half Chris Morgans had a thrust at the line, as did second row Jon Barley but both were repelled. The Neath scrum came, a few metres from the Newport line, and the visitors were penalised yet again. Neath, tasting blood, opted for a reset scrum. This time the scrum wheeled but was judged legal and Geraint O’Driscoll hammered the ball into touch near the half way line.
Newport’s penalty count was creeping up as they were pinged again in the 24thminute for not releasing the tackled player. Neath’s Ed Howley slotted the thirty metre effort easily to make it Neath 6 Newport 7.
Neath were starting to look properly dangerous. Newport were conceding penalties for a pastime and the Blacks were managing to find gaps to run through. Scrum half Chris Morgans, a very direct player, broke to find number eight Leon Ward in support. Ward reached Newport’s 22 before Jon Morris hauled him down. As Newport re-grouped they were caught offside. Ed Howley again slotted the penalty to put Neath ahead again, 9-7 on 30 minutes.
Newport took the lead minutes later when the Neath captain, flanker Jordan Collier, was penalised for breaking from the scrum early. Geraint O’Driscoll kicked the penalty to make it Neath 9 Newport 10 on 33 minutes.
The penalty situation didn’t improve and the 35th minute saw Newport prop Nicky Boyce sent to the naughty step for ten minutes after Mr Newman decided that he’d seen hands in the ruck too many times. With the numerical advantage Neath tried to finish the half strongly.
A splendid kick through by Ed Howley for his winger Aaron Grabham to chase almost paid dividends only for the ball to agonisingly roll into touch just a few metres from the Newport line, a let off for the Black & Ambers. Henry Palmer threw a long ball into the line out to Reuben Tucker and Neath let Newport off the hook completely when a player was seen to not support his own weight at a ruck. Penalty to Newport, danger averted. O’Driscoll cleared the ball back to halfway to try and run down the clock to half time.
But Neath weren’t quite finished yet. Aaron Grabham demonstrated how dangerous he could be by powering through would-be tacklers while Neath open side Charlie Davies ran half the length of the field, ball in hand, before being halted by Llywarch ap Myrddin. Luckily for Newport, the pass away from contact to the supporting Chris Morgans was knocked on. From the scrum, Ryan James hoofed the ball into touch to bring the first half to a close.
Halftime – Neath RFC 9 Newport RFC 10
Geraint O’Driscoll kicked off the second half with Newport playing towards the covered terrace. A returning high ball was taken by second row Dan Partridge who passed to Garin Harris. Harris found O’Driscoll who made a break and passed to Chay Smith in support who, in turn, found Elliot Frewen. Frewen made a sprint for the line only to be bundled in to touch, just metres out, as he tried to turn himself away from the touch line and ground the ball. This was a real statement of attacking intent by Newport.
Nicky Boyce returned to the field only to be replaced on the naughty step by Garin Harris who Mr Newman had felt had conceded too many penalties for turning-in at the scrum. He was replaced by Tom Piper, making his fiftieth appearance in a Newport RFC shirt and, as it turned out, may have been a factor in Neath’s later performance. Harris’ opposite number, Ben Uphill, had appeared to be on a par with him and potentially causing Harris a few problems, However, Tom Piper with a slightly shorter stature seemed to excel at getting under Uphill and into his chest, which is, as any prop will tell you, exactly what you want. Uphill’s earlier apparent goading of Harris soon ebbed away and, before long, he limped off to play no further part in the game.
Still down to fourteen players, a Neath scrum on Newport’s 22-metre line yielded a try straight off the training pitch as the ball went through the hands for winger Geraint Llewellyn to find space on the outside where John Morris would have been had he not had to yield for Tom Piper. Ed Howley missed the conversion so the score no was Neath 14 Newport 10 on 47 minutes.
Newport were still down one player when they scored their next try. Elliot Frewen lead the charge into midfield before being tackled. Scrum half Owen Davies, on for Ryan James, had time to pick his runners before finding Tom Piper in yards of space. Piper ran from the Neath 22 metres line to a few metres out from the try line before being tackled. Davies passed the ball left quickly where Dan Partridge took possession and cantered across the line unopposed. The conversion was missed so the score stood at Neath 14 Newport 15 on 52 minutes.
The evidence of Neath beginning to unfurl was there to see when the restart went straight into touch and the Neath conceded a penalty at the resulting scrum on the centre spot.
Newport were beginning to dominate all facets of the game. The scrum niggles had worked themselves out, the lineout was more dependable and Neath were struggling to find answers. Henry Palmer was prominent as the close-quarter drives took Newport up field. Neath were being stretched but wouldn’t quite break until a mass punch-up took place on the hour mark. Once it subsided, Mr Newman took the advice of his assistant and it was felt that Newport’s Rhodri Jones and Neath’s Jon Barley could carry on their philosophical debate on the sidelines for ten minutes. However, the penalty for punching stood for Newport and Geraint O’Driscoll extended the Black and Ambers lead to 14-18.
Llywarch ap Myrddin chose a line that took him up to ten metres from the Neath line on 66 minutes. Once tackled, he set the ruck ball up for Owen Davies to find the sprinting Geraint O’Driscoll coming onto the ball at pace with enough room to evade the covering defence and dive across the line for Newport’s third try and effectively slam the door shut on any hopes Neath had of winning this game. O’Driscoll converted his own try to make the score Neath 14 Newport 25.
Neath had become ragged and inaccurate but still physical and determined but the game was up for them. Newport, however, were looking for more. Tom Pascoe was trying to put Chay Smith in position when Neath centre Max Llewellyn picked the pass off and looked to get wing Geraint Llewellyn away. The pass, however, bounced loose for a retreating Reuben Tucker to gather and remount the charge towards the Neath line. Geraint O’Driscoll put a grubber kick in to chase himself but was knocked-on under pressure just metres from the line.
As the game wore on, Newport were demonstrably superior across the park. A strong shove at a Neath scrum some 35 metres out resulted in a penalty to Newport which O’Driscoll kicked to the corner with laser-guided accuracy. Adam Brown jumped to take the throw and an effective maul formed around him. Neath did enough, however, to get bodies under the ball and prevent the try. The resulting scrum was a thing a beauty.
A Newport attacking scrum, five metres out, and Piper, Palmer and Boyce had their opposite numbers in all sorts of trouble. The pack slowly marched forward, ominously, as Neath boots, hands and kitchen sinks were thrown in to prevent the heave. Mr Newman, quite correctly, judged that the try was going to be scored and the entire Neath back row had broken away to try and prevent that. A penalty try was the decision and O’Driscoll had the simple task of converting that to make the score Neath 14 Newport 32 on 80 minutes.
Newport kept going into injury time with the constant singing of an exceptional level of travelling support ringing around the Gnoll, but no further scoring took place before the referee blew for full time and Newport RFC were crowned Principality Premiership Tier Two Champions.
Saturday evening (kick off 7.30pm) sees the curtain comes down on Neath’s 2016/17 campaign when they host Newport in the Premiership Tier 2 play-off final at The Gnoll.
Neath clinched their place in the final with a convincing 33-13 win over another redoubtable Gwent side Cross Keys last Sunday and team manager Martyn Morris said, “The team is playing good rugby and finishing strongly – we are looking for one big last effort from everyone and really the squad deserves some reward for the hard work put in this season.
”It is nice to be finishing the season at home and The Gnoll should have a special atmosphere on Saturday evening as our supporters have waited a long time for something to cheer. We hope as many as possible come to The Gnoll on Saturday evening and help us get over the line.”
Neath captain Jordan Collier said, “The boys put in a strong performance last week against a tough Cross Keys side and we know that Newport will be just as demanding. They have beaten us twice this season so we want to make sure this one is ours and put down a marker for next year.”
Neath have given a vote of confidence to the XV which started last week’s win over Cross Keys but Collier stresses there is no complacency in the camp, “We all know we must perform – team and bench,” he says.
Neath v Newport (Home)
15 Ed Howley; 14 Aaron Grabham, 13 Max Llewellyn, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 Geraint Llewellyn; 10 Gavin Evans, 9 Chris Morgans; 1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Geraint James; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Jordan Collier (captain), 8 Leon Ward, 7 Charlie Davies
Replacements – 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Neil White, 18 Ryan Thomas, 19 Jonny Griffiths, 20 Aled Morris, 21 Dan Guarneri, 22 Iwan Evans, 23 Kristian Corbisiero
Referee – Mr. Gareth Newman (Cardiff)
When Neath beat Newport to take the 1910 Welsh Championship, Welsh rugby legend Percy Bush, still playing at the time but dabbling in journalism, joined those who congratulated the All Blacks :-
“Evening Express” – April 30th, 1910
WHAT HAVE NEATH DONE?
A Roseate Future
STORY OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP
BY PERCY F. BUSH.
When the final kick had been taken in the great fight at Neath on April 16, 1910, and Newport had retired vanquished by the difference between a dropped goal, and a try, it was everywhere acknowledged that Neath had won the proud title of Welsh champions.
It is not to be wondered at that the acclamations of the sporting populace should have occupied the air of the town to the exclusion of everything else; it is not to be wondered at that every man in Neath felt at least two inches taller on the night of the date I have mentioned, for it is ever such a long time ago that the the Blacks were at the top of the tree – never before, in my recollection, have they stood where now they stand.
The only cause for wonderment is that the Neath players carried off their honours all have such modest demeanour, for, although they had accomplished something great in the football world, yet they never attempted to show anyone that they thought “shucks” about it.
Although I was far away from the actual scene of battle, yet I have channels of information open to me which are reliable, so I know what I am talking about. Now at the beginning of the season Neath did not give promise of being the great side they have proved themselves to be.
Early on they got beaten by Leicester away. But it is a well-known fact that Neath never get going until the season is about a month old, also the committee who quite evidently knew what their young team was made of didn’t worry, but simply smiled serenely.
The Game of His Life
An intimation that this placidity was not misplaced was soon forthcoming, and was given when the team met Newport at Newport and drew with the powerful Usksiders when the latter were going great guns. But. perhaps, the proudest moment of the season (bar, perhaps, the last Newport game) was when Cardiff were met at Cardiff.
That day the Neath forwards played grandly, and W. M. Edwards played the game of his life. Time after time he cleared and saved his forwards by great kicking. It was he also who kicked the penalty goal by which his side won the much-prized victory.
But in getting this goal Neath were most, distinctly lucky, for there is no doubt at all that the penalty should never have been given. It was just an instance of how Cardiff have suffered several times this season, another case being that try in the BaaBaas match at Easter, when a try was given against Tommy Beardon.
All the same, Neath won the match, and deserved to, but it was a pity the win wasn’t more conclusive. Up to Christmas things went on quite smoothly for the Blackies, and, then, notwithstanding the temptations of Christmas festivities, the team brought off a fine win against Edinburgh ‘Varsity, A great revenge came about, and it is not possible to over-estimate the value of it.
I refer to the return match with Leicester. This match, at Neath, was one of the greatest triumphs of the whole season, for it not only showed that the result of the first-game between the teams was not an equitable one, but it also clearly demonstrated the supremacy of Welsh football. The “Tigers” returned without the usual smile beloved of the caricaturist, and the honour of Neath was restored.
A Great Pity
All the time one could not help thinking what a great pity it was that Llanelly and Swansea were not being met. A tussle between Neath and Swansea would have been one well worth the seeing, and one cannot help thinking that it would have been better for all concerned if the teams could have met.
As far as rough play is concerned. I only hope that all teams in Wales and England will model their style on that of Neath’s present team in the future, for a nicer lot of players I do not think it possible to meet, and I do hope that next season we shall find Neath and Swansea in friendly rivalry once more; likewise Neath and Llanelly.
Another epoch-marking event was duly recorded at Neath later on in the season, for when the blue and blacks visited their former conquerors Neath won again after a most exciting time.
True, it was only by a single point, but the win this time was thoroughly conclusive, and I hope I shall not be accused of being traitorous to my old and loved team Cardiff when I say that the win should have been by 12 points instead of one.
Whether I am or not, I can’t help it. That is my opinion, anyway. The big beating Neath administered to Plymouth on the latter’s own ground came, at any rate to me, as a stupendous surprise, I knew what Neath could do, but Plymouth is a fearfully hard nut to crack at Plymouth and I never dreamed that the Welsh champions would do what they did over there.
Plymouth are justly regarded as one of the best of England’s clubs, and for Neath to win by such a big score was decidedly an achievement which stumped them as A1 at Lloyd’s.
Another Gaudy Plume in the caps of the men Castellnedd was obtained at the expense of Bridgend. This game provided the biggest total of points which Neath had gathered in one game throughout the season. This match must have given Neath quite a lot of misery, for it is well known that they loathe beating their near and dear neighbours. Bridgend.
However, they still kept smiling. The delight of the “best ‘referee in the kingdom” at seeing his pets thus ruthlessly destroyed may be more easily imagined than described.
Of course, we don’t think much of making big scores over here. For instance, when we played St. Nazaire the other day we bagged 71 points against 17; by “we” I mean Nantes. But, speaking offhand, I think that, next to Nantes, Neath hold the record this year for the biggest score in a single match.
And then came that awful, awful trip to London Who would ever have imagined that the London Welsh would have dared to succeed where Cardiff and Newport had failed? Yet that is precisely what they did dare, and, daring, did.
This is probably the only game of the season upon which Neath do not look back with joy. It even jeopardised their chances of winning the championship, for Newport were perilously close in the race for honours.
Consequently, the last match against the Usksiders was invested with unusual interest, and was most eagerly looked forward to by both sides. The game turned out to be one that will be handed down to posterity, and when the last tootle of the whistle was heard Neath had won a most exciting game, and the championship for 1909-10.
No One Grudges Them
I think that no one will grudge them the honour, for they have brought off so many really fine performances that they are justly entitled to the position they now hold. People will argue that, because Swansea and Llanelly were not met, it is impossible for Neath to be hailed as champions, and I must confess that I thought so too at one time, but it is problematical whether either of these sides would have beaten the blacks, and, if Neath played against them like they did against Cardiff at Neath, I don’t think there is much doubt that Neath would not have been beaten.
I am very glad that Neath have done so mighty well, simply and solely for the reason that they have won their matches by thoroughly clean and clever football.
They have not descended from the high standard of decent play which they set themselves at the beginning of the season, and there is no reason why they should in the future.
That future is roseate with promise, by the way, and the championship may go down to Neath again next year. Cardiff will not begrudge them the honour, for they held it in 1905-6, 1906-7, and 1908-9, and three times out of five seasons is not so bad. Here’s to you Frank Rees, and to all your merry men.
Neath and Newport have been playing each other since 1878/79 and there has been many an epic battle in that time.
As early as 1878/79, these two famous old clubs – Black and Black and Amber – met in the final of the old South Wales Challenge Cup and did so again in 1883/84 with the Usk-siders winning both at Rodney Parade.
Newport were the standard-bearers for the Welsh game in those early days and, along with Cardiff, Llanelly and Swansea, became established as the ‘Big Four’ but by 1909/10 Neath were ready to ‘break the mould’ and put their name in the record books.
The Welsh Championship hinged on the Neath-Newport clash at The Gnoll on April 16th, 1910 and this is how the “Evening Express” of the day reported the game :-
“Evening Express” – April 16th, 1910
DROP GOAL TO A TRY
Neath Defeat Newport
A VIGOROUS GAME
A CROWD OF 12,000 SEE AN EXCITING FINISH UNPARALLELED ENTHUSIASM
Final Score: G. T. Pts. Neath 1 0 4 Newport 0 1 3
To Newport and Neath fell the distinction of being the finalists for the Welsh Championship, and the long-expected contest between these teams came off on the Gnoll at Neath, this afternoon.
In Welsh football circles nothing else has been talked about for the past week or more, and it is a long time since a club match in which Neath was concerned has excited so much public interest.
According to the championship table, which is made up of a system of percentages, Neath has been about two points higher than the Usksiders, and in the event of Newport winning to-day, Neath would full back to second place and lose the coveted honour of being the championship club of South Wales.
A win for Neath, on the other hand, would make their position secure at the top of the table. There being only one more match on the card, and that in a home fixture with Plymouth next Saturday.
Neath are in the fortunate position of being able to turn out their very strongest side, but Newport had cause for regret at the absence of J.P. Jones from the centre. Otherwise they had a full side in the field.
Neath had only lost two matches – the first to Leicester while the second was a most unexpected loss at the hands of the London Welsh in London. Newport, on the other hand, had only lost one match, but what weakened their relative position was the fact that they had played no fewer than eight drawn fixtures. Their only conquerors for the season Cardiff on March 5 by a narrow margin.
Neath have laid great store on their ground record, which has not been tarnished for two years, and it is not necessary to say that they were never more determined to keep that record intact than to-day.
They had neglected nothing in the way of training, and every man expected to turn out in perfect fettle. The Newportonians also realised the importance of the occasion, and in no game of the season have they turned out in better condition. After the heavy rain which had fallen overnight, the ground was on the soft side, and there were some treacherous patches just in front of the grand stand. Expectations of a record gate were fully realised, thousands of people coming into Neath from Newport, Cardiff, and Swansea by excursion trains.
The previous best record was last year when Swansea were the visitors to The Gnoll and when the sum of £207 was taken at the gate.
The teams took the field in the following order:-
Neath: Tit Davies; Edgar Thomas, Frank Rees (capt), Dai Parry, Trevor John; Shon Evans, Jack Brennan; Joe Pullman, D.H. Davies, Fred David, Will Perry, Howell Davies, Bob Green, T. C. Lloyd, Tom Reason
Newport: S. Williams; R.G.S. Plummer, F.W. Birt, Perry, A.M. Baker; T.H. Vile, W.J. Martin; C.M. Pritchard, Beddoe Thomas, E. Jenkins, P. Coldrick, P. Waller, Dr. Smythe, H. Uzzell, H. Jarman
Referee, Mr. Vaughan Reynolds, Treorchy.
A Record Crowd
The crowd on the ground was one of the biggest ever at Neath there being no less than 12,000 spectators present. Indeed the scene is aptly described by a gentleman on the grandstand: “the onlookers were packed like herrings in a barrel, no room for salt.”
It was five minutes to four when the teams filed into the enclosure, with Vile leading the way in front of the black and amber brigade. Pritchard kicked off, and Tit Davies failed to take the ball on his own line, with the result that the first scrum was formed about five yards from the home line.
The ball was passed out from Vile to Martin, and then to Birt, who dropped for goal but failed badly. Neath kicked out, and, breaking up a scrum in the centre, rushed down to the Newport 25. but were driven back toy Plummer picking up smartly, and kicked up to Tit Davies, who found touch in neutral ground.
For the first few minutes play was wholly monopolised by the forwards, and the first free-kick was given against Vile for kicking the ball back into the scrimmage. Twenty yards was gained by the kick, and for a time the Neath men were aggressive, but lost the advantage gained through Shon Evans being penalised for off-side play.
Smart Following Up
Baker was hard pressed through smart following up by the Neath men, who handled him into touch just as he was receiving the ball in has own 25. Dr. Smythe broke away with a powerful run, but his pass to Coldrick was given forward.
So far play had been in Neath’s flavour. Newport woke up, and rushed smartly to the Neath 25 and all but scored.
The visitors were again driven back to the centre, and Phil Waller, after taking the ball in the open, put in a long run and passed to Birt, but his transfer to Plummer was not taken, and the movement broke down near the Neath 25 line.
Vile was penalised for picking the ball out of the scrum. Brennan again gained a lot of ground with a fine kick, which found touch on the Newport side of the meridian.
A Vigorous Game
Play was vigorous to a degree, every man going all out. So far Newport only had shaped like a scoring team, Neath’s plan of campaign being to depend upon the strength of their forwards rather than on the strength of their back division.
Some pretty play was put in by the home backs, the ball going from hand to hand until it finally went to Frank Bees, who showed judgement in trying to break through when he found his wing covered by Baker.
Neath Drop a Goal
It was a near thing, and quite the best bit of play by Neath so far. Neath had several shots at goal in quick succession, but they ail fell considerably short of the mark.
Neath continued to be strongly on the aggressive, and play had been taken by a terrific forward rush to the mouth of the Newport goal, when Plummer, in order to save the situation, kicked into the open, and “Tit” Davies, taking the ball in splendid style, dropped a magnificent goal.
This success was hailed with tremendous enthusiasm, but the Newport men were not dismayed, and went off with a bang from the kick off, and were not stopped until they had reached the home 25.
Relief was brought by an exceedingly clever dribble by Bob Green, who controlled the ball with all the skill of a first-class soccer player and went fully 25 yards. Fred David broke with the ball at his feet and dribbled past Stanley Williams, but was prevented making further progress through being badly fouled.
The incident however, escaped the notice of the referee, and Neath had to suffer as a consequence. Three penalties were awarded against Neath in as many minutes, but little or no ground was gained through failing to find touch.
Vile was next penalised through kicking the ball back into the scrum. Again the touchline was not found, and Stanley Williams was able to gain ground for his side through his greater skill in this direction.
A long kick by Vile was the means of transferring operations to the home 25, and Baker, after picking up a loose pass by Vile, kicked into touch within ten yards off the Neath goal line.
Newport tried hard to break through with a round of passing, but the tackling was too good, and Plummer was brought down with the ball on the Neath 25 line. Vile next tried reverse pass manoeuvres, but it didn’t come off.
Half-time score: G. T. Pts. Neath 1 0 4 Newport 0 0 0
D.H. Davies re-started for Neath and Birt replied with a lovely punt to touch, dead on the centre line. Another useful kick by Stanley Williams placed his side on the aggressive but the Neath forwards again got away in a bunch and dribbled to the, centre.
Melville Baker had a capital chance of putting in what might have been a scoring run, but just as be was getting into his stride he was splendidly tackled by Edgar Thomas.
Neath made a desperate effort to pierce the defence, and it was only a heroic tackle by Stanley Williams which prevented them from succeeding after Fred David had made a strong burst for the line.
The Neath forwards were now improving in their heeling out, but the subsequent play of the backs left much to be desired. Brennan had a glorious chance to drop a, goal from short range, but the ball shot high off his toe and fell many yards short of the goal.
Newport gained relief for a few minutes, and now Shon Evans, beating Vile for possession in his own side of the scrum, ran to within a few yards of the Newport line before he was tackled, and then dropped the ball at the feet of his oncoming forwards.
Stanley Williams saved the situation by kicking the ball out of bounds. The Neath forwards were now showing tremendous dash, and Newport, though playing pluckily, showed lack of discipline and restraint.
They had hard luck in being wrongly impeded when making a strong attack, and the penalty kick given against Neath did not compensate Newport for the advantage they had lost. Martin broke away in his best style, and passed to Burt, but the latter’s transfer to Plummer was given too high to be taken.
Newport now did most of the attacking work. and Birt, receiving from Vile on the Neath 25 line, dropped for goal, but the ball went many yards wide, and “Tit” Davies touched down.
The Usksiders were showing much improved play at this period of the game that they looked like scoring every moment. A penalty was given against Shon Evans for offside, and Birt took a shot for goal, which did not come off.
Neath played a stubborn defensive game, and finding that they could not hold the Newportonians went in for rushing tactics, which gained them ha!f the length of the field, and which took the ball right up to the Newport line.
A scrum was formed five yards out, and the visiting forwards wheeling dribbled to the 25. Bob Green again put in one of his clever dribbles, and play was taken back to the Newport citadel.
Brennan had the ball placed for him at an awkward angle, but found the kick too difficult. “Tit” Davies deservedly won a round of applause for his smartness in taking the ball and screw-kicking into touch when hard pressed.
Newport Score a Try
Frank Rees next came into the picture with a pretty run and punt into touch. Play had been taken down to the Neath 25. when Melville Baker picked up from a loose kick and passed to Cold rick, who ran over with an unconverted try.
Birt took the kick for goal amid the breathless silence of the 12,000 spectators, and to the relief of the home partisans the ball fell short. Excitement was now at its highest pitch, and it was entirely a question as to whether the Neath defence would be strong enough to keep out the Newport men.
It was a desperately hard struggle, and Baker, after receiving from Martin, looked like getting over until he was pushed into touch by “Tit” Davies, the home custodian. Then the game ended amid a scene of unparalleled enthusiasm.
Final score: G. T. Pts. Neath. 1 0 4 Newport. 0 1 3
Newport’s luck deserted them to-day, and had they been blessed with a little more of it in the final stages of a truly great struggle they would have been champions of Wales to-day.
As it is, however, that honour now belongs to Neath, and, taking an impartial review of all the circumstances, no one can gainsay the fact that the distinction had been well won.
It was in to-day’s game the balance of merit was in Neath’s favour in the first-half, but in the second portion of the game the Newportonians were decidedly the superior team. Neath deserved their victory more by virtue of their pluck and doggedness than by their cleverness and skill, and one could not help admiring specially the terrific rushes of the Neath forwards.
There were periods when they were absolutely irresistible, and it was only by inches on two or three occasions that they fell short of scoring after taking the ball at their feet to the Newport line.
The Usksiders made the mistake of leaving a it too late before bringing their passing machinery into full swing, and had they shown the same determination, coupled with skill and dexterity earlier in the game they would undoubtedly have won.
They had the Neath men fairly and squarely beaten in the last quarter of how, and there is no question that had the time been extended for a few minutes longer the Newport attack would have succeeded.
The referee did not make allowances tor stoppages, and thus Newport suffered a similar misfortune as that which robbed the Harlequins of victory last Saturday, and gave the Usksiders a win which they hardly deserved, so that matters have balanced themselves equitably, and Newport have no just cause for complaint.
The play on both sides reached a high standard, and the only blemish was the inclination to be wild and excessively vigorous at odd moments.
Newport’s back play did not. develop itself until the last final effort was made in the closing stages of the game, and then we saw the Newport men at their very best.
HOME SIDE’S TACTICS
On the other hand, the Neath tactics and defensive play were really superb, and in no game played this season has a more stubborn and resolute defence been shown by any team when pressed in a tight corner.
Among the Neath forwards the outstanding figure was Bob Green, whose footwork was quite a feature of the match. The play of the Neath men was wonderfully even in character, especially in the back division, every man contributing a fair share to his side’s victory, and particularly the plucky full back, T. Davies.
WALLER’S FINE PLAY
Waller was the hero of the Newport forwards, and was continually conspicuous for clever play in the line-out, and in the loose generally. Martin, at outside half, displayed much of his talent in the last quarter of an hour, and it was certainly rough luck on him that the game should have been stopped for a penalty against Neath when he was clear of everyone.
Apart from this incident there was nothing in the game over which there need be any regret, and the signal triumph of Neath in beating Newport and winning the championship is as fine an achievement as could possibly have been attained, especially among those followers of the game who can carry their minds back to the old cup days, when Neath was a power in the land.
They don’t report them like that any more !
Principality Building Society has extended its title sponsorship of the Welsh Premiership and also announced a further partnership with Welsh Rugby, putting its name to the WRU National Youth Leagues for the 2017/2018 season.
Aberavon face Merthyr in the 2017 Principality Premiership final at the Talbot Athletic Ground on Sunday 21st May (KO 3.30pm), with the Tier Two final between Neath and Newport taking place at the Gnoll on Saturday night (KO 7.30pm ).
And it has now been confirmed that the winners will be defending their Principality Premiership title for one more year.
The member-owned organisation first lent its Welsh brand to the domestic league’s top division in 2005, and is now set to complete 13-seasons directly supporting the national game’s semi-professional league, before standing down as title sponsor of the competition.
In addition, and in a significant boost to the grass roots game, Principality Building Society will also assume title sponsorship of the WRU National Youth Leagues for 2017/2018 – to be known as the Principality Youth Leagues.
The National Youth Leagues play-off final also takes place this weekend, featuring Bridgend Athletic and Rumney Youth, at Ystrad Mynach on Friday 19th May (KO 7pm), with the competition seen as a vital part of the community pathway.
This partnership supports the national game at all levels in communities across the country and sponsoring the National Youth Leagues – which involves 145 teams of 16-18 year olds across Wales – is a natural fit.
Julie-Ann Haines, Customer Director at the Principality, said:
“We are delighted to extend our successful sponsorship of the WRU Premiership for one more season. We have been proud sponsors for the past 12 seasons but have decided that this will be our final year. The feedback we have from our Members is that they want us to invest in grassroots rugby. So next year we will also be sponsoring the National Youth Leagues, supporting the health and wellbeing of young people across Wales. “We are at the start of a 10-year partnership to support rugby in Wales, which includes the naming rights of the iconic home of Welsh rugby. This partnership is about investing in the development of rugby, providing opportunities for people to prosper through sport and creating memorable and unrivalled experiences for our members and communities. We look forward to building on this successful partnership in years to come.”
Principality is a brand with a passion for sport and its management see the WRU, as an organisation proud of its involvement with Welsh business and the community, as providing the perfect partnership.
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips said: “Everyone involved in Welsh rugby’s semi-professional league will be delighted by the prospect of another year of Principality Premiership action and, perhaps even more significantly, we welcome Principality Building Society on board as the new title sponsors of the WRU National Youth Leagues.
“Principality’s commitment to Welsh Rugby plays a vital role in helping us to safeguard the future of our national game and their direct interest in the grass roots and community end of the game is particularly significant.
“The Principality Premiership is in an exciting phase of development at the moment and Principality’s commitment to a further year of sponsorship offers increased stability for yet another season.
“More generally as a long term partner to Welsh Rugby, Principality’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the nation is no better represented than in their support of the new Principality Youth Leagues in 2017/18 and we thank them for their continued investment.”
Confirmation has been received from the WRU that the Tier 2 play-off between NEATH and NEWPORT will be played at The Gnoll on Saturday, May 20th (kick off 7.30pm).
Representatives from the WRU and Premiership sponsors, Principality Building Society, will be on hand to present the trophy to the winners in front of the grandstand immediately after the final whistle.
Normal admission charges of £10 (Adults) will apply but Under-16’s are FREE and there is a special deal for season ticket holders of BOTH clubs.
On production of your Neath RFC or Newport RFC season-ticket at the turnstiles, adult entrants will receive a £5 discount – i.e. entry at only £5.
So come along to The Gnoll. Wear your colours and send off 2016/17 in style !
Neath’s revival gathered even greater momentum as they brushed aside Cross Keys to set-up a Principality Premiership Tier 2 final against Newport.
Gareth Llewellyn’s side, who ended up bottom of the table with only one win in 22 games last season, ran in five tries at The Gnoll to beat Keys 33-13. Newport held off Llanelli to reach the final with a last gasp, 22-17 win at Rodney Parade.
“We are the second youngest team in the league and we’ve done a lot of growing up this season. Reaching the final has given us something positive to aim at and scrap for, but we want to be battling at the top of the table next season,” said Llewellyn.
“If we can win some silverware it would mean we’ve reached the first rung on the ladder we need to step out of the deep pit we were in at the club. Last season we were trying to get players to stick with us, now we’ve got players asking to stay and others asking to join.
“We are trying to raise standards and while we wanted to be in the top eight, it might have played into our hands to be in Tier 2 this season because we’ve been able to pick up some wins, build some confidence and develop the squad.
“It is encouraging that we are that much better than we were last season and even at the beginning of this campaign. But there is still so much more to do and there are lots of things at which we can become better.
“We still miss too many opportunities and still make a few too many mistakes. Things are beginning to stir at the club and we want to give players from the town and the Neath locality a chance to prove themselves.
“Geraint Evans has provided a steadying influence, Ed Howley has been fantastic for us and we are now starting to look a little bit like a Neath pack should.”
The ultra-reliable Ed Howley chipped in with 13 points as he scored one of his side’s five tries and kicked four conversions. Aaron Grabham scored twice for Neath and Charlie Davies and Chris Morgans got the other tries.
Keys, who had already beaten Neath twice in three outings this season, took an early lead with a Josh Prosser penalty and ere only 5-3 adrift at the break after the first of Grabham’s scores. Just after halftime, Prosser then lifted his side back into the lead with a second penalty before the home side took firm control.
The Welsh All Blacks rattled up 28 points without reply to seal the final place for the home team and a last minute try from James McCarthy, converted by Prosser, was only enough to give the visitors something to smile about on their journey home.
Neath’s play-off game against Cross Keys will kick off at 2.30pm on Sunday. This ‘extra’ game will still attract costs so we need to make a charge.
However, at the end of a testing season and as a thank-you for season ticket holders of both clubs, please bring your season-ticket with you to obtain a 50% reduction in admission costs – i.e £5.
Otherwise, normal entry charge of £10 will apply – although, as usual, Under-16’s are FREE.
The NEATH Club would like to thank you all for your support this season.
Please come along to THE GNOLL on Sunday and support the team – better still, encourage friends and family to join us.
Neath scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams and flanker Aled Ward are heading to Georgia and the Junior World Cup after being named in the Wales Under-20 squad.
The Club’s congratulations go to the pair who will not have centre Keiran Williams for company as he continues to battle a shoulder injury.
Wales’ fixtures in Georgia: v Australia (31st May, 17:30 BST); v England (4th June, 17:30); v Samoa (8th June, 10:00).
Neath RFC are saddened to hear that former Aberavon RFC and Wales wing of the late 1950’s and 1960’s John Collins has passed away after illness.
John was a very popular character and had many good friends in the Neath club including his rival wings of the time Cyril Roberts and Keith Maddocks.
A product of Aberavon Green Stars RFC, John featured in the Neath-Aberavon combined side which played South Africa in 1961. He was a member of Aberavon’s championship-winning side of that same season and won 10 caps for Wales.
Neath winger Alec Jenkins (pictured below – centre) has been ruled out of Sunday’s play-off against Cross Keys at The Gnoll (2.30pm).
The former Wales Under-20 star broke his leg in a freak accident at work on Monday and now faces a lengthy lay-off which will include him missing out on an end-of-season Crawshay’s Welsh tour to Portugal.
It is a big blow for the popular winger who, after an injury-plagued couple of seasons, was back to somewhere near his best in recent weeks and was looking forward to making an impact in the play-offs.
Neath captain Jordan Collier said, “It is a blow to lose a player like Alec at this key stage of the season as he has been a vital cog in our revival. The team’s best wishes go to Alec and we are fortunate that we have good cover in Geraint Llewellyn and Kris Corbisiero. I know the team will go that extra yard for Alec on Sunday.”
There is a new venue, a new date and a new name for the WRU National 7s tournament. The Heineken 7s replaces the Foster’s 7s and will now take place at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday 27 May rather than BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Tickets for the day long event are on sale here now (tickets.scarlets.wales) or by calling 0871 871 8088
There is a special offer available for participating teams including a coach to and from the event from their home club. For £15 per person (based on minimum of 49 people), they will receive club seats and access to the Quinnell Lounge as well as coach travel.
See www.scarlets.wales for more info, book via the Scarlets Ticket Office on 0871 871 8088 or contact your participating club or supporters’ club.