What a difference a few days makes! After the scowls at the end of the Celtic League final in cardiff last weekend, the Neath coach Lyn Jones was wearing a broad smile at Newport after seeing his side grab victory from the jaws ofdefeat. A game that looked to be far beyond them when they were 25-3 adrift, having conceded three tries, five minutes into the second half suddenly turned into a stunning victory.
While Newport were left dumb struck, Neath were smiling all the way to the bank.
"We felt that in the last five minutes of the first half we started to make Newport look like human beings, rather than supermen. We introduced Jamie Ringer to give us more gas and we started to move the ball wide and find some good field positions," said Jones.
"We turned their line out over, made the most of their errors and scored two tries from turn over ball. At 25-3 it would only have taken one more score to put us out of it, but we stuck at it and hit back well.
"What we need now is greater consistency. If we can play well for 30 or 40 minutes in a match why can't we do it for the full 80 minutes?"
Everyone expected Newport to have the advantage coming off the back of three successive victories, playing at home and coming up against a Neath side that was obviously suffering a hang over from their mashing by Munster in the Celtic League final.
And so it proved as the home side, roared on by a passionate crowd of 6,056, moved into a handy 18-3 interval lead. South African star Percy Montgomery got the ball rolling with a first minute penalty and then a try after 14 minutes.
Lee Jarvis notched Neath's first points with a 19th minute penalty, but five minutes later Newport hooker Paul Young gathered a bouncing ball following a towering Shane Howarth up and under and sprinted clear from 30 metres.
Montgomery added the conversion and then kicked a penalty to give Newport that 15 point interval advantage. At least Neath ended the half in an attacking vein, but when Matt Mostyn broke through a weak Lyndon Bateman tackle to score Newport's third try five minutes after the break the signs looked ominous for the Welsh All Blacks.
The introduction of Shaun Connor in place of an off colour Jarvis after 50 minutes had a crucial bearing on events and the ex-Newport stand-off played a vital role in Neath's spectacular revival.
Ringer started it with a close range try after good work by Dave Tiueti, Adrian Durston and Rowland Phillips and Connor added the extra points.
That stirred something in the Neath ranks and four minutes later Durston returned a kick ahead by Ofisa Tonu'u with a vengeance as he beat three tacklers. The full back took play over half-way and then Andy Moore spread the ball wide to the left.
Shane Williams had been at his elusive best all evening and needed no second invitation to wreak more havoc in the home defence after James Storey had given him some space on the 22 with a superbly timed pass.
Moving off his left foot, he cut back inside, beat four men and headed to the posts for a try which Connor again converted to cut the gap to eight points. Now there was a glimmer of hope for the visitors, and you could see the panic setting into the Newport ranks.
Neath still needed two scores in the final quarter and they got the first when Mr Adams reversed a penalty decision after spotting Newport flanker Ian Gough cutting up rough at a ruck after the whistle had gone. Gough saw yellow, Neath got the penalty and Connor hit the mark to make it 25-20.
The drama increased when Phillips barged his way over from close range to level the scores and Connor's conversion put Neath into the lead for the first time with only three minutes of real time left to play. However, Mr Adams found seven minutes of stoppage time and there was still plenty of action to come.
Montgomery made a dashing break into the Neath 22 and then saw a drop goal attempt drift wide. Shane Howarth missed an even easier drop goal attempt and then Montgomery was handed the chance to win the game with the last kick of the match.
Adam Jones was penalised for going over the top at a ruck five metres in from touch on the left hand side of the pitch. Up stepped Montgomery, the kick missed the mark and Neath stole the points.
Scorers: Newport: Tries: P Montgomery, P Young, M Mostyn; Cons: P Montgomery 2; Pens: P Montgomery 2. Neath: Tries: J Ringer, S Williams, R Phillips; Cons: S Connor 3; Pens: L Jarvis, S Connor.
Teams: Newport: P Motgomery; M Mostyn, J Jones-Hughes, J Pritchard, A Cadwallader; S Howarth, O Tonu'u; R Snow (D Pattison 58), P Young, A Garvey (C Anthony 63), S Raiwalui (captain), M Voyle, I Gough, J Forster, S Ojomoh (A Powell 63).
Sin Bin: I Gough 70.
Neath: A Durston; G Morris, J Storey, D Tiueti, S Williams; L Jarvis (S Connor 50), A Moore (captain); P James, D Jones, A Jones, A Newman, L Bateman, A Mocelutu (J Ringer 41), S Tandy, R Phillips.
Referee: Paul Adams (Ebbw Vale).