- Whites lose to Neath in error-strewn match
- Eighth defeat in a row for Swansea
- First win in Premiership second phase for Neath
By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea tasted defeat for the eighth match in a row in an error strewn encounter against local rivals Neath.
Richard Lancaster’s men were left to rue a host of missed chances in the first half as the Welsh All Blacks kept their composure to secure their first win of the Premiership second phase.
In the opening exchanges the home front row caved in at the first scrum and full back Ed Howley kicked his side into an early lead from the penalty.
Centre Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler made a break from a lineout, finding Sion Crocker in support. The hooker used centre Iwan Evans as a battering ram, before scrum half Reuben Morgan-Williams danced his way over for a try. Howley converted.
Winger Alec Jenkins tried to keep the ball in play, but it fell into the hands of fly half Rhys Williams, who raced down the wing, only to be bundled into touch a metre short of the try line.
The Whites scored their only points of the afternoon when three successive scrummaging infringements by the All Blacks’ pack led to a penalty try.
Swansea were then penalised for offside in midfield, but Howley’s effort at goal fell short of the posts.
Full back Owen Howe was handed an opportunity to tie the scores after the visitors failed to roll away after the tackle, but his kick also failed to reach the distance.
Prop Geraint James was sent to the sin-bin for a persistent offence at the scrum as the Whites pack continued to dominate, but replacement centre Dafydd Manley lost the ball forward at the ruck.
A good lineout take by former All White lock Jon Barley set up a Neath maul inside the twenty-two, but Crocker spilled the ball forward in the tackle.
Half-time:- Swansea 7 Neath 10
Manley dropped a high ball, giving Neath an early chance to attack in the second half, but Jenkins’ chip through was charged down. Howley ran back at the Swansea defence though and lock Ryan Bean showed good strength out wide, but prop Liam Tobias was penalised for holding on after the tackle.
A superb run by Thomas-Wheeler caused panic in the Swansea defence, but his flip pass to Jenkins went forward and the home side were able to clear.
A powerful drive from the lineout saw lock Sam Kiley creep to within metres of the try line, but hooker Sion Jones and number eight Steffan Jones were penalised for crossing in midfield.
The Swansea pack drove forward at a scrum, earning a penalty, and Howe chipped to the corner. Lock Matt Dodd collected the lineout and was held up inches short of the line. From a second scrum the Whites were knocked back and Kiley held on after the tackle.
Winger Mike Evans raced through the middle, leaving three tacklers for dead and a deft grubber kick by fly half Luke Price almost resulted in a try for the visitors, but for a knock on.
Neath sealed victory when Howley picked up a high kick in midfield and raced past five Swansea tacklers to score a great solo try, which he also converted.
The home side did have a chance to get back into the game when the All Blacks were penalised for offside in midfield, but Manley missed his effort at goal.
The fly half chipped to touch from another penalty when the Neath forwards fived over the top of a ruck, but another mistake handed possession back to the Blacks.
Next up for Swansea is a tough home match against champions and league leaders Merthyr, while Neath travel to Llanelli.
Full-time:- Swansea 7 Neath 17
Tries:- Penalty try (19)
Tries:- Reuben Morgan-Williams (12), Ed Howley (66)
Cons:- Ed Howley (13, 67)
Pens:- Ed Howley (3)
Yellow cards:- Geraint James (34)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Referee:- Simon Mills
Weather:- Light cloud, 10C
Man of the match:- Ed Howley
15 Owen Howe (rep: Luke Griffiths 74)
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Ben Cambriani
12 Jake Randall (rep: Dafydd Manley 28)
11 Dan Howells
10 J Rhys Williams
9 Josh Guy (rep: Rhodri Wells 49)
1 Tom Sloane © (rep: Jack Powell 80+3)
2 Paul John (rep: Sion Jones 49)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Tom Harper (80+3)
4 Sam Kiley
5 Matt Dodd
6 Josh Clark (rep: Emyr Williams 67)
7 Ben Davies
8 Steffan Jones
16 Sion Jones
17 Jack Powell
18 Tom Harper
19 Gethin John
20 Emyr Williams
21 Rhodri Wells
22 Dafydd Manley
23 Luke Griffiths
15 Ed Howley
14 Mike Evans
13 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler (rep: Chris Morgans 64)
12 Iwan Evans
11 Alec Jenkins (rep: Scott Gibson 78)
10 Luke Price
9 Reuben Morgan-Williams
1 Liam Tobias
2 Sion Crocker © (rep: Garin Lloyd 61)
3 Geraint James (rep: Neil White 54)
4 Ryan Bean (rep: Matthew Davies 78)
5 Jon Barley
6 Elis Hopkins
7 Ceri White (rep: Neil White 34-41)
8 Leon Ward
16 Neil White
17 Garin Lloyd
18 Huw Wilkes
19 Matthew Davies
20 Scott Hicks
21 Chris Morgans
22 Matthew Pearce
23 Scott Gibson