2004/2005 WRU National League
Neath 41 v 6 Llandovery
29 September 2004 - The Gnoll, Neath

Match Report

Neath 41 - 6 Llandovery

Neath were a different side once head coach Rowland Phillips put things right at half time. Although the unbeaten All Blacks led 13-6 at the break, they hadn't set The Gnoll on fire. Wrong options and unsteady finishing had prevented both No. 8 Hywel Jenkins and wing Richard Carter from finishing off some slick approach work, and it was not until injury time that they went back in front.

"I wasn't too concerned at half-time as we had created chances, but it gave me a chance to sort some things out," explained Phillips. "We then went on to place Llandovery under more pressure and with it came the control and tries that led to another good victory."

Centre Andrew Bishop, younger brother of Ospreys centre David, controlled the midfield and made opposite number, Llanelli Scarlets wing Aisea Havili, look distinctly ordinary. Bishop was the architect of two of his side's five tries, giving further proof that Neath's youth policy is paying handsome dividends.

The Drovers proved durable opponents, especially during a stop-start first half, when the refereeing of James Jones threatened to overshadow the game. His 44th-minute sin-binning of UWIC wing Dafydd James - for momentarily holding up the ball - seemed to be harsh in the extreme.

Neath took an eighth-minute lead via a James Hook penalty, but it was then trumped by successful kicks from full-back Gareth Morgan in the 22nd and 27th minutes. Llandovery held the 6-3 lead until the 39th minute when Bishop made the cut, and try-sniffing full-back Neil Clapham was on hand to finish things off and touch down. Fly-half Hook converted, and in the final act of the half he kicked a penalty, making it 13-6 at the interlude.

Impressive flanker Tom Smith then set up a 42nd-minute try for centre Aled Bevan, who excelled along with wings Aled Brew and Carter. That proved the breaking point for the Drovers, who were then blown apart by another Bishop break, leading to centre Bevan getting his second try. Andrew Littlehales had replaced Wales hooker Mefin Davies (calf strain) just before half time, and in the 63rd minute he finished off Brew's dynamic touchline run. And to round off a productive second half display, the All Blacks signed off with another sizzling try. Clapham broke from around halfway in the 72nd minute, and outwitted his former team-mates to collect a sixth league try of the campaign. Hook converted all five tries for a 16-point match haul to move him onto 53 league points for the season.

Team Sheets


Neath Llandovery