Neath v Swansea: New-look Whites suffer that same old taste of defeat
Neath 23, Swansea 9
THE All Blacks wore white and the Whites were in dark blue — but it was a familiar tale at The Gnoll as Neath claimed a 23-9 opening-day win against Swansea.
Swansea entered the tie as outsiders, having failed to win away at Neath for nine years and undergone sweeping changes over the summer.
Tries from Tom James, Dai Langdon and Elliott Jones kept that hoodoo intact, though the Whites could have been much closer had their handling been better.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Neath were frustrated not to capture a bonus point with a fourth try, but head coach Patrick Horgan was pleased to start their Principality Premiership title challenge with a victory.
"We're delighted with the win, if a little disappointed not to push on and get the bonus point," he said.
"There's definitely room to improve.
"We did a lot of good things but there were also areas where we were poor. We're nowhere near the finished product so we just have to keep working on it."
Swansea's new head coach Mefin Davies, meanwhile, was encouraged by the efforts of his reshuffled squad.
"We came here with high hopes and there were plenty of positives there," he said.
"The players will be frustrated with the missed opportunities. We're realistic about where we are and the players will learn a lot from that."
The visitors were understandably frustrated to have wasted their scoring chances, and one such opportunity was the first of the match as Nicky Thomas scythed through the Neath defensive line with a fine angled run.
The full-back found support from wing Ben Roberts but the latter's offload went awry.
The attack ended with a missed penalty from Sam Davies, though it was Swansea who controlled possession and territory early on.
Despite the bright start from Swansea, Neath took the lead with a simple but well-executed move, as scrum-half James collected the ball from a line-out and ran over unopposed for the opening try.
The hosts then added a second touchdown less than five minutes later. A snappy sequence of phases had the Swansea defence in disarray, and Langdon exploited one of the many gaps to speed over from ten yards.
Langdon missed both conversion attempts, though Davies was more accurate with his next penalty as Swansea reduced the deficit to 10-3.
Handling errors made Swansea the orchestrators of their own downfall on occasions, but when they did retain possession the visitors attacked with fluency.
Davies added a second penalty to make the half-time score 10-6, though Neath stretched their lead with a flurry of scores moments after the restart.
Langdon stroked over a drop-goal and Davies responded with another penalty, but the hosts struck a decisive blow as wing Jones ended a flowing move with a neat finish in the corner.
Swansea could have cut Neath's advantage soon after but Davies missed two penalty attempts.
The Wales Under-20 fly-half then made an excellent break into the hosts' 22, but again the Whites fumbled with the try line in sight.
The visitors spent long periods of the second half in Neath territory but they were unable to turn their pressure into points.
Conversely, the hosts were clinical whenever they entered the Swansea half. Langdon, who had found his kicking range having wobbled before half-time, slotted over a late penalty to give his side a 23-9 cushion they held on to with ease.
Neath : Tries: T. James, D. Langdon, E. Jones. Cons: D. Langdon. Pens: D. Langdon (2). Drop-goal: D. Langdon.
Swansea : Pens: S. Davies (3).
Referee : Sean Brickell (Abertillery)