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Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Saturday, 22 May 2010 14:48 UK

Neath 22-22 Swansea

*Neath win 3-1 on try count

Neath (12) 22
Tries: Farrell, James, Whitney Cons: Thomas (2) Pen: Thomas
Swansea (6) 22
Try: Dirksen Con: Dixon Pens: Dixon (5)


The game ends at 22-22, but Neath are the ones celebrating as they win on a 3-1 try count
Neath add the play-off title to the Welsh Premiership league crown

Neath won the first Welsh Premiership play-off final on try count after surviving a Swansea fight back in the blazing sun at Cardiff Arms Park.

Weak All Whites defence let in Kevin Farrell and Ashley James for tries, but man-of-the-match James Dixon kept his side in it with six-out-of-six kicks.

Adam Whitney took Neath clear before the superb Hanno Dirksen replied.

At 22-22 Nicky Thomas blew a long kick for Swansea then Dirksen blew a certain try with the last move of the match.

Neath were the runaway winners of the league at the end of the regular season, the All Blacks' fifth title in six years.

Swansea were second at the end of the regular season, but both sides had to face a complicated play-off system to make the inaugural final.

The all-Ospreys region clash was taken to Cardiff, where the Bluebirds' Wembley play-off final and the roasting weather will have contributed to a disappointing crowd of 541.

All Whites fly-half Dixon opened the scoring with an early kick, before poor defence from his team let Neath in for the opening five-pointer.

Neath's Kevin Farrell and Swansea's James Dixon compete in the Principality Premiership play-off final at Cardiff Arms Park
Man-of-the-match Dixon's perfect kicking proved in vain for Swansea

Scrum-half Farrell received the ball from a line-out just outside the Swansea 22 and scythed through the All Whites pack untouched.

Veteran ex-Wales fly-half Arwel Thomas - playing in what he insists was the last of his many 'final games before retirement' - missed the straight-forward conversion.

Neath prop Anthony Lott was sent to the sin bin for an offence that allowed man-of-the-match Dixon to reclaim the lead with a penalty.

The All Blacks held on with 14 men, though, then shortly before the break hooker James benefited from a Whitney break after more weak Swansea defence for a try converted by Thomas.

Dixon's third penalty narrowed the gap early in the second half, Thomas missing a penalty then adding another to restore a six-point gap.

Both sides had men in the bin when Dixon's fourth penalty made it 15-12, Thomas trying to respond with a drop-goal that fell short.

But it was again the All Blacks' strike power that told, Farrell freeing Whitney on the wing, the flanker stepping delightfully inside and driving to the line for a score improved by Thomas.

The All Whites hit straight back with a dazzling run from right wing Eli Walker, whose pass was hacked on by Dirksen who had the pace to follow through for a try converted by Dixon for 22-19.

Nicky Thomas missed a chance to equalise with a long-range penalty, before a dazzling Dirksen break won them another kick in the shadow of the posts, Dixon making no mistake for the three points.

Thomas rattled the crossbar with a long-range penalty as the deadlocked game entered the last five minutes, the All Whites driving straight back to win a 40m penalty in front of the posts.

Nicky Thomas stepped forward, but the full-back was again wayward with his kicking.

With the clock registering 82 minutes, Swansea swept forward with a last, dazzling attack.

The ball came across the line to Dirksen, but with a clear five-yard run to the line the South Africa-born centre could not gather the pass and knocked on.


Neath: King, K. James, S. Thomas, Brew, Jenkins, A. Thomas, Farrell, Lott, A. James, M. Jones, E. Evans, Edwards, Gravell, Whitney, L. Evans.
Replacements: Lewis, Littehales, Sidoli, Collins, T. James, Bramwell, Morris.

Swansea: N. Thomas, Walker, Dirkson, Watts, N. Jones, Dixon, Wells, May, Baldwin, T. Evans, Goode, Kiley, L. Jones, B. Lewis, S. Jones.
Replacements: Phillips, Clatworthy, Blyth, S. Lewis, A. Lewis, A. Thomas, Popham.

Att: 541.

Referee: David Jones (Wales)



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see also
Wales' sporting weekend in photos
20 May 10 |  Wales
Neath qualify for play-off final
14 May 10 |  Welsh
Centurions Neath power to title
17 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Play-off exclusion for Pontypridd
07 May 10 |  Welsh
Ebbw Vale suffer Premiership drop
14 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Welsh Premier play-off sides set
12 Apr 10 |  Welsh
Welsh league rugby archive
11 Mar 03 |  Welsh
Welsh Premiership websites
17 Aug 07 |  Welsh
British & Irish Cup
28 Nov 09 |  Welsh
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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