Swansea 33-25 Neath

By: Paul Hopkins

The All Whites sealed a bonus point victory over Neath in a hard fought victory at St Helen’s.

Players, coaches and supporters of both sides first fell silent for a minute before the match in memory of former Neath and Swansea prop Martin Jones, who passed away earlier this week.

When play began, flanker Jacob Blackmore was penalised for an offside offence so fly half Rhys Jones was able to find touch on the Neath 22, but an infringement at the lineout gave Neath an opportunity to clear long.

Prop Elis Hopkins salvaged a lineout for Neath and despite not being able to make the most of an attack, the home pack were penalised for diving over the top of a ruck.

Fly half Kristian Jones found touch on the Swansea 22 and number eight Cai Davies took the lineout, before full back Steff Williams was knocked back in the tackle, and a chip through was dealt with by winger Cori Lewis-Jenkins who cleared his lines.

Lock Matthew Davies took a lineout inside the Swansea half and flanker Gethin Tremlett made a superb break through the middle, supported by centre Keiran Charles, but the visitors lost possession allowing the Whites to clear.

The Neath front row collapsed a scrum so Jones chipped up to the 22 with his penalty touch finder. Swansea tried to attack through centre Gareth O Rees and Lewis-Jenkins but the Welsh All Blacks managed to clear long.

Winger Ryan Griffiths weaved his way through a couple of tackles to spark a promising Neath attack, with fellow wing Jon Bayliss popping up in support, although the home side were able to clear through a box kick by scrum half Aron Hemmings.

The Swansea pack gave away a penalty at the scrum, allowing Steff Williams to kick his side into the lead.

The home side aside got the ball out wide to winger Llien Morgan but he was well tackled, with centre Sam Matthews also knocked back in the tackle by a determined Neath defence. Then a chip and go by full back Harri Houston was comfortably dealt with by Griffiths who called a mark.

Play was brought back for a penalty, which Jones kicked to the corner. Lock Lloyd Ashley took the lineout, and Swansea got the ball out to Jones who slid over to score a try that he also converted.

Prop Daf Davies charged through the middle with the supporting Cai Davies making yards too, before the home side lost possession.

The Whites stole a lineout inside the Neath 22 but flanker Jacob Blackmore superbly regained possession by picking up a loose ball on the ground.

Following a scrappy period of play Swansea were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, but Jones instead kicked to the corner. The home side battered the Neath defence, before Houston exploited space out wide to take a pass and score. Jones judged the wind to perfection with his successful conversion.

Hemmings tried a clever grubber kick but his effort was well picked up by the Neath defence. Instead, Houston threw a forward pass just outside his own 22 to put his side under pressure.

Flanker Joe Greaves superbly stole the ball at a scrum and fed Morgan, but the winger’s chip ahead was well taken by Kristian Jones who was able to clear.

Charles burst through a tackle and into the Swansea 22, but wasn’t able to get the ball away, however at the next phase of play, quick ball out wide by scrum half Gruff Williams saw Griffiths squeeze over for a try in the corner. Steff Williams missed the conversion.

Half-time:-   Swansea 14-8 Neath

Kristian Jones found touch on the Swansea 22 with a penalty immediately after the restart, but the home side gave away a penalty with Steff Williams kicking the three pointer.

Lock Matt Dodd popped up to take a crash ball, but Hemmings’ box kick was well defused by Gruff Williams. A clever crossfield kick just evaded Griffiths though with the winger knocking the ball forward.

Jones chipped deep into the corner with a penalty with Dodd taking the lineout, although the Neath defence gave away another penalty, with Jones again dinking the ball into touch.

Dodd again collected the lineout and an excellent drive by the home pack saw the lock crash over for a try. Jones missed the conversion.

The visitors managed to rip the ball out of Dodd’s hands to set up an attack, and Kristian Jones chipped ahead to find touch inside the Swansea 22, although a routine lineout take by flanker Joe Greaves allowed the Whites to clear.

Hooker Sion Crocker peeled off a maul as Neath looked to find a way back in the match, but the home side gave away a penalty, which Kristian Jones chipped to the corner. The home side defended well and were able to clear though.

Bayliss took a pass at pace on the wing to set up a Neath attack and a chip ahead by the visitors saw prop Ed Thompson yellow carded for a late tackle.

Kristian Jones chipped to the corner with the penalty and the All Blacks managed to get the ball out following a burst by Crocker, with another penalty awarded for offside.

Lock Matthew Davies took the lineout and the Neath pack mauled up towards the line, with a clever inside pass sending Charles in for a try under the posts. Kristian Jones converted.

Cai Davies burst through the middle and found replacement hooker Owen Thomas in support, with Dodd also playing his part. Offside by the visitors saw replacement hooker Chris Morris yellow carded and a quick tap penalty saw Houston use his pace and power to score a well taken try. Jones converted.

Kristian Jones burst through the middle as Neath went in searching of a bonus point, but Bayliss was unable to take the pass out wide.

Swansea grabbed a fifth try from an unstoppable 15 metre rolling maul, with Thomas powering over for the score. Jones converted.

Morris stole a lineout inside the Neath 22 and following a drive forward, the All Blacks were penalised for offside, with Jones chipping to the corner. However, an excellent defensive effort by Neath kept the ball trapped inside the maul.

In the dying seconds Griffiths made a break out of defence as Neath went for a last hurrah, and an outside backs move saw Morris collect a final pass to race clear for a try. Kristian Jones converted.

Full-time:-   Swansea 33-25 Neath



Tries:-   Rhys Jones (22), Harri Houston (31, 73), Matt Dodd (49), Owen Thomas (80+10)

Cons:-   Rhys Jones (23, 32, 74, 80+11)

Yellow cards:-   Ed Thompson (63)



Tries:-   Ryan Griffiths (37), Keiran Charles (69), Ben Williams (80+13)

Cons:-   Kristian Jones (70, 80+14)

Pens:-   Steff Williams (17, 44)

Yellow cards:-   Ben Williams (72)


Match facts:

Venue:-   St Helen’s, Swansea

Weather:-   Cloudy, 11C

Referee:-   Ben Breakspear

Man of the match:-   Harri Houston

Attendance:-   900


Swansea team:

15 Harri Houston

14 Cori Lewis-Jenkins (rep: Jacob Symes 74)

13 Gareth O Rees

12 Sam Matthews (rep: Marcus Brown 75)

11 Llien Morgan

10 Rhys Jones

9 Aron Hemmings (rep: Gareth J Rees 61)

1 Daf Davies (rep: Tom Sloane 70)

2 Llew Phillips-Taylor (rep: Owen Thomas 61)

3 Ed Thompson (rep: Tom Mills 75)

4 Lloyd Ashley

5 Matt Dodd ©

6 Joe Greaves (rep: Sam Pailor 56)

7 Lloyd Evans (rep: Dai Francis 72)

8 Cai Davies


16 Owen Thomas

17 Tom Sloane

18 Tom Mills

19 Sam Pailor

20 Dai Francis

21 Gareth J Rees

22 Jacob Symes

23 Marcus Brown


Neath team:

15 Steff Williams (rep: Llewellyn Hawkes 65)

14 Jon Bayliss (rep: Khalifa al-Muflahi 80+9)

13 Sean Wilcox

12 Keiran Charles

11 Ryan Griffiths

10 Kristian Jones ©

9 Gruff Williams (rep: Brychan Wood 80+9)

1 Mason Morgan (rep: Jack Powell 80+2)

2 Sion Crocker (rep: Ben Williams 70 (rep: Mason Morgan 80+7))

3 Elis Hopkins (rep: Tarik Dabeh 70-80+1)

4 Matthew Davies

5 Cai Arnold (rep: Ioan Jones 41)

6 Jacob Blackmore

7 Gethin Tremlett

8 Morgan Kneath (rep: Chris Morris 58)


16 Chris Morris

17 Jack Powell

18 Tarik Dabeh

19 Ioan Jones

20 Ben Williams

21 Brychan Wood

22 Llewellyn Hawkes

23 Khalifa al-Muflahi