Great start for 1st XV in Ospreys premier league opener.

Gowerton School 1st XV: 22 Neath College: 14.

Tries from Brown, Clayfield and Jones see Gowerton off to a winning start.

Gowerton School 1st XV got their Ospreys premier league fixtures underway when they hosted Neath College at Waunarlwydd. At kick off, the Roseland Road playing surface was looking in pristine condition, but the wet and slightly windy conditions were expected to make handling difficult.

Early on, Gowerton’s forwards carried the ball strongly, with prop Ryan Hughes and hooker Ben Brown both gaining good yards but Neath’s defence was resolute and with Gowerton showing signs of early season rustiness, the visitors were able to achieve several turn overs. When they did so, fly-half Joseph Humphries was able to use his impressive boot to clear his lines.

Good lineout work from Nick Gabriel and Matthew Hutchinson allowed Gowerton’s half backs Iwan Jones and Tom Barrington to attempt to play an expansive game, and in the early stages, the handling of both sides was a credit in the wet conditions.

The hosts’ pressure eventually told in the 27th minute, when a tackle from impressive flanker Tim Perkins led to a scrum from which No.8 Matthew Hutchinson picked up and popped to Iwan Jones, he raced through a gap on the 22 and scored. The try went unconverted.

The try seemed to stir the visitors and they had a sustained period of attack in the Gowerton 22, but the hosts’ defence held firm until the half time whistle.

Gowerton School 1st XV: 5 Neath College: 0.

In the second period, Gowerton’s scrum began to apply increasing pressure on the visitors and on one occasion, alert scrum half Jones was able to steal the ball, allowing centres James Northey and Cameron Clayfield to cross the gain line and with the forwards on the front foot, a series of pick and drives resulted in hooker Ben Brown diving over from close range. Scrum half Jones added the extras.

Neath College were spurred into another gear and they now enjoyed their best spell of the game. A clever ‘dink’ over the top, allowed fly-half Humphries to cross for their first try, he added the extras and with confidence high they continued to press and after a series of ruck infringements, the referee lost patience with the hosts and issued a yellow card.

College made the numerical advantage count – a lineout off the top, saw quick ball for the backs and fullback Keiron Brennan hit a lovely angle on half way and despite a despairing tackle, he crossed for their second try. Humphries added the conversion to edge his side in front.

When Gowerton were restored to a full complement, good runs from prop Mabon Kaniewski and flanker Lewis Grove led to a College infringement on their own try line, which led to a second yellow card, this time it was Neath’s turn to be down to 14 players.

A visitors’ scrum led to them clearing their lines, but the kick was well fielded by scrum half Joel Matuschke who fed centre Clayfield, he spotted a gap in the defence, executed an impressive switch in the Neath 22, à la Beauden Barrett and Nehe Milner-Skudder, with Iwan Jones, and after receiving the return pass, he crossed to regain his side the lead. Jones converted.

The game was still very much in the balance but a penalty infringement gave Gowerton the chance to kick the points to put the game beyond the visitors. Jones added the three points to end an excellent game of rugby after which congratulations must go to both sides for the excellent handling shown in very difficult conditions.

Gowerton make the short journey to near neighbours Gwyr for next week’s fixture.

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