By Tony Poole
LLANELLI registered a Welsh Premiership double over Neath for a first time to take possession of fourth spot.
Having taken the reverse Gnoll fixture, 28-16, back in September, Llanelli were sharper in attack and more ruthless finishers.
They also retained possession much better in what turned out to be an entertaining encounter that produced eight tries.
It left the five-time champions still searching for a first win this season - and they remain next to bottom.
A fifth league win from seven starts for the Parc-y-Scarlets side was garnished with a bonus point, and it left them level with third-placed Cardiff on 24 points.
However, the Blue and Blacks take third place on try-count, 23-22, during this early stage of the campaign.
Llanelli got off to a fast start, hammering away at the Neath defence before hooker Craig Hawkins got a ripping 38th league try with full-back Dion Jones converting.
But Neath made a positive response – centre Adam Jones initially nailing an eighth-minute penalty – ahead of an opportunist 15th-minute try from scrum-half Josh Davies.
His tap-and-go effort was goaled by centre Jones, but Llanelli continued to pose the bigger threat in attack.
That was the case on the half-hour mark, centre Steffan Evans making the cut and lock Nathan White eventually secured an unconverted try.
However, Evans was injured in the process, and a first touch from replacement Gareth Walters produced a 35th-minte try that full-back Jones goaled, making it 19-10 at the break.
The Blacks did the early pressing on the restart – without disturbing the scoreboard – but that changed in the 52nd minute when centre Jones reduced arrears with a second penalty.
Three minutes later Llanelli responded with a Dion Jones penalty – and they carved out a key score on the hour.
Josh Adams released fellow wing Dafydd Lewis for the bonus-point try close to the flag with full-back Jones converting for 29-13.
Neath hit back with a try at the posts from full-back Ceri Young that centre Jones improved on, but revival hopes receded when Llanelli full-back Jones landed another penalty.
During the closing stages, replacement centre Walters crossed for his second try and Llanelli’s fifth of the night.
But two minutes into stoppage-time, a rumble among the Neath forwards took them close to the home try-line.
A final thrust ended with ex-Crusaders Rugby League back rower Lewis Mills dabbing down, and Jones added a third conversion from wide out.
LLANELLI: D Jones (J O’Reilly 80 mins); D Lewis, S Evans (G Walters 33), J Griffiths, J Adams; N Danjanovic, J Evans (R Davies 39); R Thomas (B Davies 79), C Hawkins (Torin Myhill 57), G Havard (T Slater 69), N White, Adam Powell (capt), D Eager, E Price (S Leach 73), E Williams (O Morgan 53)
Tries: G Walters (2), C Hawkins, N White, D Lewis
Cons: D Jones (3)
Pens: D Jones (2)
NEATH: C Young; D Ford, A Jones, J Leyshon (B Davies 58), D Howells; J Thomas, J Davies (S Clarke 69); N Downs (Roy Jones 61), S Crocker (I Dobbs 63), C Jones, J Goode (capt), G Evans, L Ward (K Tayler 37), L Mills, G Daniel
Tries: J Davies, C Young, L Mills
Cons: A Jones (3)
Pens: A Jones (2)