Rugby Union: Williams away for four: Neath close up from close range

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STEVE WILLIAMS, a ball- handling No 8 who was recalled to the Wales squad last Friday, helped himself to four tries at the Brewery Field last night as Neath set about the routine win which put them three points behind Swansea at the top of the Heineken League with a game in hand.

It says something when the scoring of 37 points can be described as routine, but that is what rugby under the new laws has become. The higher the score the more misleading it seems, though Neath's capacity to make it count whenever they delved deep into Bridgend territory was impressive.

In this, as in sundry other aspects of their play, the Welsh All Blacks resemble nothing so much as the other All Blacks. Just like them, Neath take their chances and do not readily open up, at least not unless and until they have reached their opponents' 10-metre line.

Then, the strength and dexterity of their pack are such that they tend to take full advantage. Thus three of Williams's tries came from short-range line-outs cleanly won and then driven onward by the No 8. The other was less prosaic, a marvellous sustained piece of forward handling orchestrated by Chris Bridges, the former Wales scrum-half coming back to his very best form.

This was essential therapy after Neath's defeat at Pontypridd 10 days ago, their first in the First Division this season.

Bridgend: Tries Webbe, Mably, Wilkins. Neath: Tries S Williams 4, Woodland; Conversions Thorburn 3; Penalties Thorburn 2.

Bridgend: C Bradshaw; G Webbe, G Jones, P Wintle, G Wilkins; M Lewis, K Mably; D Francis (A Bumford, 69), I Greenslade, S Gale, A Gwilym, I Spender, J Derrick, N Spender (capt), G Evans.

Neath: P Thorburn; R Rees, H Woodland, S Crandon, N Lewis; M McCarthy, C Bridges; Brian Williams, Barrie Williams, J Davies, Glynn Llewellyn, Garreth Llewellyn (capt), I Boobyer, S Williams, M Morris (A Varney, 52; M Whitsun, 77).

Referee: J Wood (Port Talbot).

Black marks for All Blacks,

Universities on parade, page 38