Whites' scrum dominance gives them derby spoils
A DOMINANT scrummaging display saw Swansea claim local bragging rights at The Gnoll.
Head coach Mefin Davies, a player well versed in the dark arts of front-row play, would have been delighted with the performance of his pack who claimed a penalty try and a pushover score for outstanding No. 8 Dan Baker.
Neath didn't help their cause by having three men sin-binned — but all were down to the power of the Swansea shove. Early Neath pressure was rewarded with a brace of penalties by centre Adam Jones before fly-half Sam Davies, the IRB junior world player of the year, responded with three points for the Whites.
With young props Nicky Smith and Nicky Thomas making their presence felt for Swansea, a creaking home scrum led to flanker Garyn Daniel and prop Ceri Jones being shown yellow. Inevitably, the penalty try followed.
Davies's conversion and a further penalty put Swansea 13-6 to the good, but Neath hit back with a try in the final move of the half when fly-half Dai Langdon landed an inch-perfect crossfield kick into the arms of former Scarlets and Ospreys scrum-half Liam Davies, playing out of position on the right wing.
With Neath trailing 13-11 at half-time, a third Jones penalty put his side back in front four minutes after the restart, only for Davies to restore Swansea's lead with a penalty after a concerted period of pressure on the home line.
Some smart off-loading then saw Swansea awarded another attacking scrum and with their front row again turning the screw, Neath prop Mark Jones became the third player in blue to see yellow and the outstanding Dan Baker touched down from the pushover.
A late converted try from flanker Gareth Bateman gave Neath hope, but Swansea were able to hold out for a deserved win.
Neath : Tries: L. Davies, G. Bateman. Con: D. Ford. Pens: A. Jones (3).
Swansea : Tries: pen try, D. Baker. Cons: S. Davies (2). Pens: Davies (3).