Neath Move Into Third Place After Five Try Victory
9 February 2002 19:38pm
NEATH 35, BRIDGEND 21
Bridgend lost their coach Dennis John earlier in the week and they slipped to theri seventh defeat in the Welsh/Scottish League at The Gnoll as they were overpowered by five tries to two.
The departure of former Wales caretaker coach John as director of rugby last week left former Wales and Lions flanker Richard Webster in charge with Huw Bevan. They now face a massive task to rebuild a side who are now floundering three from bottom.
Neath, on the other hand, grabbed five tries in another highly competent and combative performance that brought them a seventh victory and moved them into third place in the table behind Llanelli and Newport.
Tongan centre Dave Tiueti was the chief executioner on a miserable night as he ran in a hat-trick of tries. He struck twice in the space of three minutes in the first-half to give the home team a handy start.
The first came from a set move as he came on the charge to receive from scrum half Pat Horgan and barge his way over. Then he was on hand to follow up kicks ahead by Lee Jarvis and Shane Williams to bag his second.
Neath coach Lyn Jones would have been extremely pleased with that bright opening because Neath were playing into the teeth of a huge wind in that first-half. It was so strong that Jarvis failed to convert either try.
Bridgend gradually found some composure and Craig Warlow kicked them back into contention with three successive penalties to cut the deficit to a single point after 25 minutes.
But Neath battled back to score a third try through their Fijian flanker Alfie Mocelutu and then Jarvis kicked a simple penalty from 18 metres on the stroke of half-time to make it 18-9 at the break.
It didn't help the Bridgend cause that they lost lock Keith Stewart for 10 minutes for punching six minutes before half-time and they were reduced to 13 men when prop John Tiel was given a yellow card for a similar offence moments before the break.
With the wind at the backs, Neath grew in confidence and Jarvis kicked a seocnd penalty from 40 metres before converting Tiueti's third try after some great approach work from the home pack.
Bridgend at least responded with a Gareth Thomas try at the posts which Warlow converted, but when their front row buckled twice at a five metre scrum international referee Nigel Whitehouse awarded a penalty try to which Jarvis added the extra points.
Former Neath back row man Shaun van Rensberg crossed in the right corner for Bridgend's second try in injury time, but it was much too little far too late.
SCORERS: Neath: Tries; D Tiueti 3, A Mocelutu, penalty try; Cons: L Jarvis 2; Pens: L Jarvis 2. Bridgend: Tries: G Thomas, S van Rensberg; Con:Â C Warlow; Pens: C Warlow 3.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.