Neath see off battling Carmarthen Quins after tough fight
Neath 15 Carmarthen Quins 12. NEATH survived a second-half fightback from Carmarthen Quins to claim a 15-12 win at The Gnoll last night.
A try from Ryan Evans helped the Welsh All Blacks build an 8-0 lead before four Dan Newton penalties gave the visitors a 12-8 advantage.
Neath hit back when Gareth McCarthy crossed for their second try and, despite a late rally from the Quins, the hosts held on for victory.
Both sides entered the fixture having endured a mixed start to the season, with each winning one game and losing two.
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Tempers frayed during a fiery first ten minutes, as Neath prop Owain Ford and Quins hooker Rich Wilkes scrapped on the floor after a scrum.
Referee Rhys Thomas kept his cards in his pocket on that occasion, but he was less lenient ten minutes later when Quins lock Carwyn Jones was deemed to have infringed cynically at a ruck.
Jones was sent to the sin bin and, to compound the second row's woe, Neath fly-half Dai Langdon gave his side a 3-0 lead from the ensuing penalty.
The lock’s absence then became more costly as Neath extended their advantage with a well-engineered try.
A flowing move involved Langdon and No. 8 Lee Evans before the ball was worked out wide to centre Ryan Evans, who sped clear to finish in the corner.
Langdon missed his conversion, but the Welsh All Blacks’ dominance was evident as their forwards punched holes in the Quins’ defence with some piercing carries.
The visitors showed only flickers of a threat in the first half, with Dan Newton dummying nicely and breaking into the Neath half with a sparky run.
That said, genuine scoring chances from either side were at a premium, with Thomas’s somewhat over-zealous officiating rather disrupting the flow of play.
With the Quins restored to a full XV, they burrowed their way into Neath territory and were rewarded with a Newton penalty which reduced the hosts' lead to 8-3 at half time.
The Scarlets man added another three points five minutes after the restart, with Thomas penalising Neath at a scrum.
Although neither side appeared to have the upper hand at the scrum, the young referee was quick to punish any misdemeanour at the set-piece.
Thomas’s next port of call was to penalise Neath No. 8 Evans for holding on, giving Newton a second shot at goal in five minutes.
The fly-half obliged with another successful attempt, and, having spent long periods on the back foot, the visitors now led 9-8.
If Neath were a little bemused about falling behind, they became increasingly edgy as Newton struck another penalty to extend the Quins’ advantage to 12-8.
The home crowd roared their displeasure about almost every refereeing decision, but they were soon appeased.
After an hour, Kevin James came off his wing to devastating effect with a brutal foray which powered Neath into the Quins’ 22.
The ball was quickly recycled and helped on to centre Gareth McCarthy, who held off a last-ditch tackle to reach over the line for a try.
Langdon converted and the hosts’ lead was restored at 15-12.
Neath: Bramwell, K. James, R. Evans, McCarthy, King, Langdon, L. Jones, Ford, Clancy, Price, R. Jones, E. Evans, Gravell, L. Evans, Morgan. Replacements: Downs, A. Williams, Reeves, A. Evans, Ward, E. Jones, K. Davies, B. Jones.
Carmarthen Quins: C. Banfield, T. Rees, Pickersgill, James, Daniels, Newton, Wells, Beaujean, R. Wilkes, T. Davies, Pugh, C. Jones, Laxton, A. Thomas, E. Lloyd. Replacements: Robinson, Guest, G. Evans, Bennett, H. Rees, Dixon, A. Banfield.
Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)