Cardiff were outmuscled by a Neath pack containing three full internationals but never threw in the towel in a lively game at the Arms Park. Only when number 8 James Malpas, nursing a shoulder injury, came on as a 50th minute replacement did the Blue & Blacks cross the gain line with any effect.
Even then they rarely threatened to score a try and their only points at the end of a difficult 80 minutes were three penalty goals from Gareth McCarthy.Neath’s backs had a surfeit of possession, particularly in the first half when they scored four of their five tries. Skilful fly-half Matthew Jones had already kicked a penalty goal into into the swirling wind in the fourth minute before, barely a minute later, he looped around his midfield to score a try in the left corner
At the end of the first quarter a five-metre scrum yielded a try for flanker John McPhail, again converted by Jones. Cardiff finally got on the scoreboard with a McCarthy penalty goal from 45 metres in the 22nd minute. But before the interval Richard Johnston and Paul Bamsey crossed for further converted tries as the visitors threatened a cricket score.
Another McCarthy goal from 25 metres reduced the half-time deficit to 6-29 and it seemed only a matter of time before the floodgates opened.To Cardiff’s credit they attacked strongly from the restart and McCarthy immediately slotted his third goal. With Malpas’ introduction having a clear effect the Blue & Blacks competed well for most of the half, conceding only a second tgry to full back Bamsey in the 54th minute.
Six minutes later Neath were temporarily reduced to 14 men when combative number 8 Hywel Jenkins put in a short-arm tackle on Jamie Henthorn but Cardiff failed to take advantage.
Despite several late attacks there was no further scoring in the final half-hour of play.