Rugby Union: Penalty try ruins Neath's night

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The Independent Online
EBBW VALE prevented Neath from assuming pole position in the Welsh Premier Division for the first time in nearly three years when they were awarded a penalty try three minutes into injury time.

Having conceded three second-half tries to the resurgent Welsh All Blacks, Ebbw Vale got out of gaol four minutes into overtime when the referee, Nigel Williams, adjudged the home pack to have collapsed a five-metre scrum.

What made it worse for Neath was that seconds earlier they had earned themselves the put-in at a scrum in their own 22 and should have cleared their lines and duly won the game.

However, Ebbw Vale were awarded the feed and, as Neath back-pedalled, the front row went down. The referee had little choice, but to award the visitors a try which the outside-half, Jason Strange, converted to steal the points and deny Neath what should have been their fifth successive league victory.

Comfortably placed in fourth position prior to this game Vale took a 12-3 advantage into half-time thanks to four successful penalties from Strange to a single reply from the Neath outside-half Matthew Pearce.

However, Lyn Jones, the Neath coach, worked a miracle at half-time and from being easily second best before the interval the home side came out and ruled the roost.

Delme Williams escaped the clutches of three Vale tacklers to score the opening try on 42 minutes and then the hooker, Mefin Davies, helped himself to a brace of tries from close range to turn the game on its head and put Neath 20-12 ahead.

That should have been enough for Neath to leapfrog the leaders, Llanelli, and second-placed Pontypridd as Ebbw Vale looked a beaten side. Unfortunately for the home supporters it was not to be and from the jaws of defeat Ebbw Vale snatched the injury-time try that keeps them in fourth position and with an outside chance of finishing on top of the pile.

Neath: Tries: D Williams, Davies 2; Conversion: Pearce; Penalty: Pearce. Ebbw Vale: Penalty try; Conversion Strange; Penalties Strange 5.

Neath: S Stephens; D Williams, D Tuieti, J Colderly, S Williams; M Pearce (M McCarthy, 61), P Horgan (capt; D Case, 81); L Gerrard, M Davies, D Pemisimi (M Morgan, 50), M Turner, A Jackson, S Eggar, D Jones, G Newman.

Ebbw Vale: S Taumalolo; D Manley (J Wiliams, 56), J Hawker, J Funnell, L Olsen; J Strange, D Llewellyn; A Phillips, A Peacock (L Phillips, 56), A Metcalfe, D Billen, K Faletau, N Budgett (G Green, 69), M Jones (capt), R Collins.

Referee: N Williams (Bryncoch).