2010/2011 Principality Premiership
Neath 5 v 46 Llanelli
12 May 2011 - The Gnoll, Neath

Match Report

Llanelli roar into Principality Premiership Final.

Neath 5

Llanelli 46


By Tony Poole

At The Gnoll


IF Llanelli can repeat this form at the House of Pain next Thursday against cup winners Pontypridd, then they could end up Welsh Premiership champions.

However, a lacklustre Neath and all-conquering Pontypridd are a very different kettle of fish.

The Parc y Scarlets side didn’t have to be at their best to breeze past the Blacks, who never got out of first gear.

But if Llanelli can maintain the tempo they displayed at The Gnoll against the Valley Commandos then anything is possible.

Ponty coaches Dale McIntosh and Paul John were spotted by eagle-eyed Neath announcer Kev Kendall – and the pair must have been impressed with the way Anthony Buchanan’s side performed.

However, Llanelli have already lost three times to Ponty this term – a league double plus the British & Irish Cup quarter-final exit – and they will have to play out of their skins to paint Sardis Road red.

Even after a three-week break, Neath looked a tired side, and were unable to raise their game for one last big challenge.

Television viewers saw Llanelli take the spoils 6-1 on tries and in the light of this performance, perhaps it is just as well that it’ not Neath going to Pontypridd on Thursday.

Llanelli made a sensational start with a thrust from prop Phil John setting up a try for centre Nick Reynolds after just 50 seconds. Fly-half Steve Shingler converted.

Neath had a chance to respond five minutes on, but fly-half Dai Langdon dragged a 30-metre penalty wide of the posts.

That led to the Parc y Scarlets increasing the lead to 10 points in the ninth minute via a well-struck Shingler penalty.

Worse followed for Neath two minutes later when fly-half Langdon had a kick charged down by opposite number Shingler, who claimed a try at the posts that he also goaled.

That made it 17-0, but Llanelli had captain and hooker Craig Hawkins binned in the 18th minute - and soon after Neath wing Chris Morgans touched down.

But the 14 men increased the lead to 24-5 in the 22nd minute when centre Reynolds collected another try with fly-half Shingler once more adding the extras.

Llanelli No 8 Matt Gilbert became the second yellow-card victim in the 39th minute, but fly-half Shingler landed an injury-time penalty.

Neath trailed 27-5 at the intermission, and they fell further behind in the 45th minute.

While still down to 14 men, Llanelli increased the lead on the back of a close-range try from captain Hawkins that fly-half Shingler goaled.

That left the Blacks with only pride at stake, and they made laboured efforts to muster a score.

But time and again limited attacking enterprise from the Blacks led to them running down blind alleys, and resolute first-up tackling.

And in the 58th minute, centre Reynolds exploited weak tackling to complete a sizzling try hat-trick. Fly-half Shingler added a fifth conversion for 41-5.

That gave London Irish-bound Shingler a 21-point contribution, but Llanelli had one more try in their locker.

It unfolded in the 72nd minute when more half-hearted tackling from the Blacks let in full-back Dan Newton for a try that went unconverted.

“We want 50,” shouted a group of excited Llanelli fans, and their wish was almost granted.

Towards the end, Llanelli battered the home try-line but when it was too late, resolute tackling prevented the Sospans hitting the half-century.

Now Llanelli’s season hinges on one more huge push – whether they are good enough remains the burning question.

Match stats:


Neath: Try – C. Morgans


Team: G. King; K. James, L. Ford (G. Evans 78 mins), A. Bramwell (S. Thomas h/t), C. Morgans; D. Langdon, T. James; N. Downs (capt) (A. V. Lott 65), G. Price, R. Davies, E. Evans, P. Sidoli (M. Collins 60), L. Evans (A. Whitney 53), A. Powell, E. Uzoigwe


Llanelli: Tries – N. Reynolds (3), S. Shingler, C. Hawkins, D. Newton; Cons: S. Shingler (5); Pens: S. Shingler (2)


Team: D. Newton; Lee Williams, N. Reynolds, J. Lewis (C. Keenan 53), D. Ford; S. Shingler, G. Davies (J. James 63); P. John (S. Hopkins 60), C. Hawkins (capt) (R. Lawrence 60), S. Gardiner (R. Jones 57), Adam Powell (A. Loxton 78), N. White (Allan Powell 63), D. Eager (R. Lawrence 18-28), M. Gilbert, N. Cudd


Yellow cards: C. Hawkins 18, M. Gilbert 39 (both Llanelli)


Referee: Leighton Hodges (Bridgend)


S4C star choice: Nick Reynolds (Llanelli)

Official : Leighton Hodges (Wales)

Neath Llanelli