Pontypridd run riot over Neath

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Neath 19 Pontypridd 60

It may have been a poor substitute for the proposed Anglo-Welsh Challenge matches between Bath and Neath and between Pontypridd and Leicester, but it provided superb entertainment for the 3,000 crowd and the perfect opportunity for Pontypridd to show they are ready for every eventuality this season.

The Swalec Cup holders added the WRU's hurriedly arranged Champions' Challenge Trophy to their collection thanks to a 10-try barrage against last season's league championship winners.

While Neath fielded only seven of the side which went down 29-22 to their opponents in the cup final four months ago, Ponty arrived with nine of their victorious team and took the game far more seriously than the Welsh All Blacks.

They gained more out of the exercise, exciting the sparse crowd with innovative moves introduced during the summer to get the most out of the new laws. Their back-row stalwarts Dale McIntosh and Richie Collins were superb throughout the afternoon and the scrum-half Paul John revelled in the extra space provided for him by their work.

Neath scored first, as they had done in the cup final, when the centre Richard Jones intercepted 40 metres out. Mark Williams converted and the remainder of the first-half was highly competitive. Ponty gradually got on a roll and three tries put them 10 points clear.

Neath hit back with the final move of the first half, John Funnell's try halving the deficit, but there was no holding Ponty after that as they ran in seven more tries.

Everyone knew it was going to be difficult for Neath to replace their international locks Gareth and Glyn Llewellyn, but the biggest task facing the new skipper John Davies could be in motivating his forwards after this drubbing.

Neath: Tries Jones, Funnell, Higgs; Conversions M Williams 2.

Pontypridd: Tries Manley 3, Paul John 2, Enoch 2, Morgan 2, McIntosh; Conversions Jenkins 5.

Neath: M Williams; C Higgs, R Jones, J Funnell, B Grabham; P Williams, D Hawkins; L Gerrard, B Williams, J Davies (capt), A Kembery, N Watkins, G Newman, S Gardner, I Boobyer. Replacements: K Phillips for B Williams, 51, M Harris for J Davies, 76, P Matthews for Watkins, 67, G Taylor for Boobyer, 69.

Pontypridd: K Morgan; D Manley, J Lewis, S Enoch, G Wyatt; N Jenkins (capt), Paul John;N Eynon, Phil John, A Metcalfe, G Prosser, N Jones, R Collins, D McIntosh, P Thomas. Replacements: M de Maid for Paul John, 56, J Evans for Phil John, 46, I Jones for A Metcalfe, 33.

Referee: P Adams (Ebbw Vale).

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