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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
Morris dents Steelmen
Neath full-back Gareth Morris
Gareth Morris starred for Neath with a hat-trick of tries
Celtic League - Pool A
Neath 34-7 Ebbw Vale

Gareth Morris claimed a hat-trick of tries as Neath brushed aside a weak Celtic League challenge from Ebbw Vale at the Gnoll on Friday.

The full-back rounded off a rampant first half with his second try as Neath's intelligent running combined with some shocking defence from Vale to produce entertaining fare.

Unfortunately the second half was a far more slap-dash affair, enlivened only by a couple of yellow cards and Morris' hat-trick score just before the final whistle.

  Scoring details:
Neath (29) 34:
Tries: Tandy, Morris 3, Jarvis.
Cons: Jarvis 2.
Pen: Jarvis.
Ebbw Vale (7) 7:
Try: Davies.
Con: Meenan.

The Welsh All Blacks kept up their challenge for a home draw in the quarter-finals by taking the win plus a bonus point and are looking strong in Pool A, while Vale slumped to their fourth defeat from five.

Neath took until the 12th minute to make the breakthrough, when Vale invited pressure on themselves after playing sensibly up till then.

Scrum-half Bryan Shelbourne's kick was charged down by Neath hooker Steve Jones and as the ball bounced dangerously near their line, the Steelmen gave away a penalty.

Neath opted for the scrum, drove at the visitors' line and Hywel Jenkins' one-handed pass conjured an opening for backrow partner Steve Tandy to dive over near the posts.

Jarvis converted and Neath were up and running, quite literally in Shane Williams' case as he soon made a superb break through the middle.

However, the wing then opted for glory rather than give the scoring pass to Andy Moore in support and the try opportunity was snuffed out.

Vale had given away a penalty, though, and Jarvis at least provided three consolation points.

Neath skipper Gareth Llewellyn charges at Ebbw Vale's defence
Ebbw Vale's poor tackling let them down

Even when Neath lost Steve Jones to the sin bin for hands in the ruck, Vale were having difficulty getting out of their own half.

That was until James Storey spilled the ball as Neath attacked the Vale 22, allowing Richard Davies to gather and streak 75 yards up the wing to score.

Mark Meenan's conversion made it 10-7, but any thoughts of a shock were dismissed three minutes later as Neath struck back.

A set backs move allowed Gareth Morris to drive through midfield and then brush aside three half-hearted tackles to touch down under the posts, Jarvis adding the extras.

The rest of the first half was pure entertainment, as Neath weaved their clever angles of running for the crowd's entertainment.

Unfortunately for Ebbw Vale coach Mike Ruddock, his players sat back to admire the show as well and only a couple of dropped passes prevented the game becoming a rout.

As it was, Jarvis helped himself after Neath switched their efforts to the blindside to catch the visitors flat-footed, then Morris added his second for Neath's fourth try and a bonus point.

Jarvis could only convert Morris' effort, missing his own, but a 29-7 lead at half-time looked ominous for Vale.

Neath lock Andy Newman
Neath lock Andy Newman hands off Kati Tuipulotu

The second half was a let down, however, as the match descended into a scrappy, error-ridden affair.

Although Vale were competing better, no doubt after some harsh words from Ruddock, they then lost the impressive Davies to injury within 10 minutes of the restart.

Neath then lost a player, albeit temporarily, as Alfie Moceletu's swinging arm saw him become the second home player in the sin bin after his cheap shot at Neil Edwards.

Five minutes later Vale, maybe determined not to be outdone in all aspects of the match, had Will Thomas shown the yellow card for killing the ball.

Then with five minutes left, Vale achieved sin bin parity when Tyrone Morris, having only just come on as a replacement, went straight off as the ball was again illegally smothered.

With a man advantage in the scrum, Neath hammered away through the pack with little success.

But the moment they opted to spread play, Vale's defence again parted obligingly and Gareth Morris cantered through for his hat-trick.


Neath: G Morris; S Marsden, J Storey, D Tiueti, S Williams; L Jarvis, A Moore; D Jones, S Jones, A Millward, A Newman, G Llewellyn (capt), A Mocelutu, S Tandy, H Jenkins.
Reps: A Bateman, S Connor, P Horgan, B Williams, A Jones, S Martin, N Bonner-Evans.

Ebbw Vale: R Davies; R Shorney, E Binham, M Ridley, N Wakely; M Meenan, B Shelbourne; P Jones, J Evans, A Black, P Sidoli, N Edwards, K Tuipulotu, P Williams, W Thomas.
Reps: C Gay, C Bevan, D Hudd, R Williams, A Bevan, S Mitchell, A Takarangi.

Referee: Greg Davies (SRU).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Robert Jones
"Neath got what they wanted"
Neath coach Lyn Jones
"Maybe both teams weren't used to the intensity"
Neath full-back Gareth Morris
"A good win and we played some good rugby"

The final

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