Bedwas RFC 15 Neath RFC 34
Principality Welsh Premiership, Saturday 28 August 2009.
Match report by John Meredith, photographs by Ian Lovell.
The first game of the 2009-10 season saw Bedwas entertain Neath in a game switched from the Gnoll which was being used for a cricket match. Neath featured their big name new signings namely Kevin Morgan the former Newport Gwent Dragons and Wales grand slam winning full back, centre Nathan Brew and Wales international back rower Nathan Thomas.
Bedwas lost the toss and played towards the clubhouse with a strong wind at their backs. Bedwas so nearly took an early lead but centre Kristian Owens’ long range drop goal attempt sailed inches wide.
Bedwas didn’t have to wait long to edge ahead, outside half Gethin Worgan landing a well struck penalty kick and then landing a 55 metre drop goal for a 6-0 lead.
Neath struck back from a quickly taken tapped penalty as their fleet footed winger David Evans found his way over the try line. ‘Baby faced assassin’ Arwel Thomas missed the conversion. Neath were on top at this stage and increased their lead when a 40 metre break by centre Nathan Brew broke the Bedwas defence and flanker Gareth Gravell finished off the move with a try. Thomas adding the extras on this occasion.
Bedwas kept in the hunt with a further penalty from Gethin Worgan but were under the cosh as Neath attacked again. Desperate defence saw lock Andrew Tibbatts sin binned for a professional foul putting the Bedwas pack under huge pressure in the resulting scrum. After three resets the referee’s patience ran out and Neath were awarded a penalty try as Bedwas were adjudged to have collapsed the scrum. Arwel Thomas once again added the extras to put his side 19-9 up.
Bedwas came back at their visitors and added two further penalties by Worgan to reach the half time break 19-15 down.
Bedwas started the second half on the defence. Bedwas were adjudged not to have been bound correctly at the scrum, Arwel Thomas booting his kick into the corner. Bedwas defended resolutely and staged attacks of their own but could not break the Neath defence.
Both sides cancelled each other out, Neath’s Thomas resorting to a huge 65 metre penalty attempt to try and get points on the board was unsuccessful before finally landing a simpler chance to put his side 22-15 ahead.
A magnificent try saving tackle by new Bedwas wing Daniel Hitchings prevented Neath from extending their lead but they soon pressed home their dominance when replacement Gareth McCarthy crashed over for a try, converted by Thomas. Just before the final whistle winger Alec Jenkins added a further try to give his side a deserved bonus point victory.
Bedwas played well in parts but were beaten by a better side on the day.