Neath RFC v Llanelli RFC@The Gnoll 06/12/08
Llanelli made seven changes from their mid week win at Ebbw Vale with Scarlets Mahonri Schwalger and James Bater returning from injuries. While Neath were led by former Osprey and Ponty boy Lee Beach.
Llanelli opened in confident fashion with a 4th minute snap drop goal from Luke Richards and when an unusual lethargic looking Neath team were awarded a penalty in the 10th minute, the Neath players could be heard shouting to the Neath coaching bench “Who’s kicking” and after Pat Horgan gave them the both hands up signal, No 10 Matthew Jarvis slotted the 40 metre kick.
Influential full back Dan Newton was replaced in the 15th minute following a knee injury with Andrew Banfield moving to full back and big Matthew Brayley slotting into the centre. The disruption did not effect the efficiency of the Llanelli’s forwards, who were again in fine form, winning all their first phase set pieces and managing to steal and put great pressure on the Neath possession.
Wing Matthew Jacobs looked to be sprinting in for a try but was bundled into touch by the impressive Osprey, Kristian Phillips, but then on 33 minutes a clever angled run from James Bater saw him touch down under the Neath posts. Luke Richards slotted the easy conversion ,but later unfortunately hit the post from a 40 metre penalty attempt. The league leaders went back into the changing rooms, controlling the match but probably disappointed with their indiscipline of conceding nine first half penalties.
Llanelli had to start the second half with another reshuffle after Aaron Shingler (back injury) was replaced by Simon.Peters. Luke Richards kept the score board ticking with a penalty and could have extended the lead, but his excellent 40 metre drop goal hit the upright and cross bar before dropping back into play.
Neath hooker Gerwyn Price and Llanelli’s replacement hooker Craig Hawkins were both in excellent form, but it was the work rate of Luke Jones who was setting the standards for both teams.
Pre-match pundits predicted a tight finish and that’s exactly what they got as the current Principality Premiership Champions struck the current leaders, immediately after prop Ian Jones' yellow card, two tries by replacement Gareth Gravell in the 74th minute and 81st minutes, plus a beautiful touchline conversion from Mathew Jarvis snatched a tense 15-13 win. Llanelli gained a losing bonus point but know only too well, that it was three points lost.
Llanelli M O M….Luke Jones.
Team15.Dan Newton.14.Matthew Jacobs.13.Nick Reynolds.12.Andrew Banfield11.Mike Davies10.Luke Richards 9.Gareth Davies.1.Shaun Hopkins.2.Mahonri Schwalger 3.Simon Gardner.4.Adam Powell.5.Aaron Shingler.6.Luke Jones7.James Bater.8.Dan Godfrey©16.Ian Jones.(58)17.Craig Hawkins(64)18.Aled Hopkins(58) 19Simon Peters(40)20.Justin James21Matthew Brayley(15) 22 Nick Jones.(68)
Half Time… Neath RFC 3-10 Llanelli RFC
Final………. Neath RFC 15-13 Llanelli RFC
Referee David Bodilly
Principality Premiership results for Saturday, 6th December2008
Bridgend 29-36 Cross Keys
Ebbw Vale 11-14 Aberavon
Llandovery 23-7 Pontypridd
Newport 31-20 Bedwas
Pontypool 6-36 Cardiff
Swansea 23-26 Glamorgan Wanderers
Next up for Llanelli RFC will be away to Glamorgan Wanderers RFC in the Principality Premiership on Saturday 13th December Kick off 2:30pm.