Neath use pride and purpose to make their point

Neath 31 Swansea 15
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The Independent Online

The public declaration of Welsh rugby's self-appointed "Gang of Six" could not have come at a better time for those teams they wish to see fall by the wayside next season. If ever a club like Neath needed any extra motivation to put Swansea in their place, it was to hear from them they are not worthy of inclusion in the plans of the half-dozen.

Caerphilly's response to being told they will be surplus to requirements if the six clubs get their way was to beat title-chasing Glasgow. Ebbw Vale poked Cardiff in the eye with their 22-20 win at the weekend and Neath overpowered the reigning champions on Saturday to prove their point.

Just how many teams Welsh rugby can sustain if it is to remain a force in the professional game will probably come to light with the return of European competition. Swansea, for instance, host Bath in the Heineken Cup on Saturday, while Neath play Bristol in the Parker Pen Shield on the same day.

At the moment, though, Swansea are finding it hard to keep on terms with their Welsh rivals.A frenetic start apart, Swansea pushed the self-destruct button again as they caved in to a Neath side brimfull of pride and passion. The first half was all about the boots of opposing outside-halves Lee Jarvis and Arwel Thomas, as they each kicked three penalties, but the second half was a triumph for the Neath pack.

After driving the Fijian international Alfie Mocelutu over for a try from a line-out, they swarmed into the Swansea 22 to create the platform for Shane Williams to wing his way over in the left corner. Then they set up the rucks from which Jarvis helped himself to two drop goals that sealed the game. Swansea had little to offer in response and not for the first time this season they looked a sorry sight.

Neath: Tries Mocelutu, S Williams; Penalties Jarvis 5; Drop goals Jarvis 2. Swansea: Penalties A Thomas 5.

Neath: G Morris; K James, A Bateman, J Storey, S Williams; L Jarvis, A Moore (P Horgan, 70); D Jones (P James, 78), B Williams (S Jones, 38), A Millward, S Martin, G Llewellyn (capt), A Mocelutu (R Francis, 67), B Sinkinson, N Bonner-Evans (R Phillips, 77-78).

Swansea: K Morgan; R Rees, S Gibbs (capt), S Winn (B Lima, 58), S Payne; A Thomas, R Jones (S Martens, 55); D Morris, C Hawkins (J Masters, 79), B Evans, A Moore, J Griffiths, D Thomas (G Lewis, 59), C Charvis, L Jones.

Referee: N Williams (Bryncoch).

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