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Confidence at the Gnoll; WELSH-SCOTTISH LEAGUE: Neath 46 Glasgow 8.


KEVIN JAMES, scorer of four of Neath's eight tries and proud under-21s coach Rowland Phillips breathe a confidence that is growing at the Courage Gnoll.

James, aged 21, the 6ft 2in 16st wing, who has been with the Welsh All Blacks three years, said, "I hope to renew my contract - it's a great club and this is my home town."

Scrum-half Patrick Horgan, prop Duncan Jones and centre James Storey reflect the same faith with their recent new contracts.

"Kevin is a much-improved player whom we have invested in, " said coach Lyn Jones.

Programme figures showed James had scored four league tries this season. He doubled that total as he pounced in the fourth, 36th, 39th and 58th minutes.

"Sometimes the ball comes your way and on other days it doesn't, " said James as he sidestepped praise.

He was more ready to talk of brother, Paul, in the Neath and Wales under-21 front row with Adam Jones and hooker Adam Matthews.

"As a management team, we at Neath believe we are heading in the right direction and that for Welsh rugby to thrive we need eight thriving club sides, " Phillips said in the programme.

"We are very confident we shall be part of that change, and a leading player at the top table of Welsh rugby."

With confidence goes caution as reflected by Lyn Jones looking to the match at Newport on Wednesday and the home game with Ebbw Vale on Saturday.

"It calls for a careful selection policy. If we are to be a top-ofthe-table side then we should have scored 70 points against Glasgow, " said Jones.

Fourth-placed Cardiff have two matches in hand over Neath and Llanelli and one over Newport as they seek some consolation after the Principality Cup exit.

Meanwhile, consolidation is the watchword at Neath in a bid to finish in the first five and qualify for next season's European Cup.

Their highest score of the season as they completed a double over the Scots in their first home league game since February 9 was a boost, though there were too many knock-ons for Jones's liking.

Immediate mental challenge is to avenge a 19-11 home defeat by Newport in September and the 2010 cup reverse at Eugene Cross Park in February.

Pressure is also on Glasgow, away to Llanelli on Saturday and Ebbw Vale a week later. Their five home wins this season include the Scarlets, the Steelmen and Pontypridd as victims, but their only success in Wales was at Swansea in September.

Jones said he had suggested to Glasgow coach Richie Dixon that he ask the fixture organisers to see in future seasons if Glasgow, or any Scottish club, could play in Wales on the basis of three fixtures in every visit, stretching from one Saturday to the next.

Glasgow, midweek home winners over Bridgend, left Dixon "deeply disappointed.

He thought James's second try - and Neath's third- to put them 17-3 up was a turning point.

"Two of our defenders were beaten by the spin of the ball on the ground and James took his chance, " said Dixon. "From there we lacked organisation and composure. We tried to force the game without the ball."

So no happy return to Welsh soil for Glasgow hooker and captain Gordon Bulloch, who scored both of Scotland's tries in Cardif the previous week.

Mention not to Bulloch a phase in the second half when Glasgow won line-out ball on a Neath throw-in, and then lost possession almost immediately.

Neath, with four tries in each half, and injury-hit Glasgow, who waited 67 minutes for their try, both strove to move the ball in an entertaining match even if handling mistakes were made.

Gareth Morris, as keen as Scotland's Glenn Metcalfe to run back at the opposition from full-back, and the strong, astute Storey were impressive.

And let no one forget Neath skipper Gareth Llewellyn, directing line-out operations one minute and then out in open spaces to figure in at least two of the try moves.

Llewellyn and his squad seem to be moving to the sunny side of the street.


SMILES IN FRONT: Dave Tiueti slips through for another try
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 15, 2002
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