Rugby Union: Bedwas RFC 49 Neath RFC 38
Principality Welsh Premiership, Saturday, September 29, 2012.
Match report by John Meredith and photography by Ian Lovell
Bedwas overhauled a 14 point half time deficit to come away with a bonus point victory at a warm, sunny Bridge Field.
With Phillip Sargent injured, Simon Grainger took over as a captain. Young Ethan Davies started at outside half with Richard Powell starting on the bench. Fit-again Ross Wardle started on the wing, and a late change saw Matthew Pettit start at tight head prop in place of Kristian Gay.
Bedwas took a second minute lead via an Ethan Davies penalty after Neath were adjudged to have entered a ruck illegally.
The lead last three minutes before two tries in two minutes by Neath scrum half Chris Morgans put Neath well ahead, Jonny Davies added the conversions. It was all Neath at this stage and Bedwas were on the ropes.
Following a scrum on the halfway line Bedwas came back into it. The ball was spread wide and Stuart Thomas crossed out wide converted by Davies, somewhat against the run of play.
From the restart Neath gained a 40 metre penalty in front of the posts but Johnny Davies’ kick went wide, likewise Bedwas’s Davies was wide of the mark with his own attempt from half way shortly afterwards.
Neath ramped up the ante. A missed tackle by Bedwas proved costly as centre Ryan Evans crossed under the sticks, Davies adding the conversion. Neath looked dangerous with the ball in hand but Jack Dixon made a good break, offloading in the tackle to Matthew Pettit who moved the ball onto Ethan Davies for try he converted himself.
Neath countered and scrum half Morgans added a third try, converted by Davies before Bedwas hooker Ben Roberts was sin binned just before half time for pulling down a maul and Davies added the penalty to put his side 31-17 ahead.
Early in the second half a serious injury to Neath winger Jason Howells held play up for 15 minutes whilst the medical staff attended to his injury. The lay-off did not seem to knock the visitors out of their stride as Gareth Gravell crossed for a converted try soon after the restart.
The turning point came after 50 minutes with Neath a man down in the scrum due to Rhys Jones’ sin binning, Bedwas earned a penalty try for a professional foul on Scott Williams. Neath’s discipline fell away and home replacement Richard Powell (a half-time replacement for Ethan Davies) made them with penalty goals after 52, 56, 62 and 65 minutes.
Matthew John crossed out wide for Bedwas to put Bedwas ahead before Neath were again on the back foot following a second sin binning on 68 minutes, this time centre Kyle Davies having an enforced rest after persistent offences saw referee Mr Brickell produce a yellow card.
Great work by the pack earned Bedwas a further penalty converted by Powell before replacement prop Dan Preece completed the comeback on 76 minutes with an unconverted try. Preece’s try, his first for Bedwas saw the home team score 32 unanswered points to turn the game around and pull off an unlikely victory. A great team effort.
The 25-year old winger is in his first season with Neath after previously playing for Ospreys junior sides, Maesteg, Llanelli and Carmarthen Quins. He also played rugby league for both Bonymaen Broncos and South Wales Scorpions this year.
“He’s had the scan and he’s waiting on the MRI results,” said Neath assistant coach Leigh Davies, who caught up with Howells on Sunday night.
“We all wish him the best and everyone is feeling for him. He was doing really well too.”