Friday, 18 September 2009

Neath call up handy Tandy

Prop forward Martin Jones captains Neath for the first time when the Welsh All Blacks play their fourth consecutive away match at Pontypool tomorrow afternoon. (KO 2.30pm)

With three games in seven days ahead of them, Neath make several changes from the side that won 25-22 at Carmarthen Quins. Wing Kevin James, centre Wayne Mitchell and lock Haydn Pugh are among the returnees.

Hard-running centre Stephen Thomas and powerful flanker Lee Evans are back from injury after successfully coming through fleeting roles as replacements during last week’s anniversary match at Ystalyfera.

Also poised for his season’s bow and his 67th senior game for Neath is Ospreys flanker Steve Tandy who captained Neath when they won the Welsh Under-21’s Cup in 2001/02.

Another back-rower on the comeback trail is John Bowd who has been out of action since last year following a knee operation and is now fit to take his place on a strong-looking bench.

Director of Rugby Patrick Horgan said: “We are still exploring our squad options and, with players returning from injury, we are slowly gathering strength.

“We have had three good away wins at Bedwas, Llandovery and Carmarthen Quins but we are seeking more urgency and fluency as we have yet to put it together as a team and the best is yet to come.

“We are expecting a big challenge at Pontypool who share the same rugby virtues as ourselves. We have huge respect for them and they are always difficult opponents especially at The Park.

“They will be anxious to bounce back after losing to Pontypridd last week so we will need to step up our game accordingly.”

Neath: 15 G.King; 14 K.James, 13 S.Thomas, 12 W.Mitchell, 11 K.Phillips; 10 G.McCarthy,
9 T.James; 1 A.Lott, 2 A.Littlehales, 3 M.Jones (captain); 4 H.Pugh, 5 N.Edwards; 6 L.Evans, 8 N.Thomas, 7 S.Tandy

Replacements: – R.Smith, A.Thomas, K.Farrell, A.N.Other, J.Reeves, E.Evans, J.Bowd


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