2007/2008 Principality Premiership
Neath 23 v 10 Newport
12 April 2008 - The Gnoll, Neath

Match Report

Neath 23 Newport 10 (HT:3-10)

To add to Newport’s continuing injury problems hooker Mike Leaman was ruled out having suffered an eye-socket injury in training, leaving Newport to nominate prop Gethin Robinson as deputy hooker and no dedicated hooker on the bench. As luck would have it hooker Andrew Brown was yellow-carded on 57 mins while Gethin limped off injured on 58 mins resulting in passive scrums. This was unfortunate for the Black & Ambers  as they has more than held their own against the runaway Premier league leaders and were only 10-11 down at the time.

Outside-half Michael Hook kicked a penalty on 20 mins after Neath killed the ball while opposite number Howard Thomas replied on 25 mins when Paul Williams was penalized for not rolling  away. On 36 mins Hook found touch close to the Neath line, won the line-out and No 8 and acting captain Andrew Coombes charged over for a try converted by Hook for a HT score of 10-3 to Newport.

Newport flanker Paul Williams was binned on 43 mins for killing the ball giving Neath a decided edge in the hay at the scrums and Newport's seven-man scrum conceded ground, leading to Neath captain and No 8 Lee Beach getting a pushover unconverted try on 45 mins. A penalty from fly-half Howard Thomas on 51 mins for a Newport player not rolling away then gave Neath the lead for a first time on 11-10. The followed Andrew Brown and Gethin Robinson leaving the field.while the introduction of Wales 7’s star James Merriman boosted Neath. He got the all important try on 68 mins with replacement fly-half Arwel Thomas converting. However TV showed that Merriman had not grounded the ball correctly. A defensive error with Hook’s clearance kick being charged down set up a 71st min try for centre Stephen Thomas, but Newport went still didn’t lie down and pushed Neath all the way and steadier finishing could have given them a losing bonus point.

"We competed well for an hour, but at the end of the day it was an opportunity lost for us," said outgoing Newport coach Ian Hembrow. "A 10-3 lead with the wind was never going to be enough to hold a side of Neath's capabilities, but that said we blew two tries.'' Without taking anything away from Neath's achievements, Hembrow pointed out that the current state of affairs in the Premiership is not what the WRU originally planned in 2003. "When you have any one team so dominant year in year out, it makes it a strange old league," continued Hembrow. "A couple of clubs are taking the best players, while others are having to survive on the £76,000 annual handout from the Union. The WRU are not even covering squad wages for a year, and all in all it cannot be the league that the Union wanted.''

Official : Gwyn Morris (Wales)

Neath Newport