The Patrick Hogan testimonial match at the Gnoll on Friday provided the Young Ospreys with the opportunity to develop a number of its players alongside the experience of British and Irish Lion, Allan Bateman and former Neath and Scarlets open side flanker
, Ian Boobyer. Very few teams could have warmed up together for just 15 to 20 minutes and expect to lead by 19 points to 10 at half time, however, this Osprey Regional Select team did and surprised everyone at the Gnoll into a stunned silence. Both sides attempted to play an open and expansive game and it was the visitors who benefited most and scored three tries to Neath’s two. It was another old stalwart who grabbed a brace for Neath, prop Andrew Howells first was a classic prop fall over the line from a driving maul while his second would probably be seen as a “fisherman’s tall story” if he were to tell it himself, as he sprinted 30 metres to finish off an excellent attack by Neath.
For the Ospreys, Swansea full back Aaron Bramwell finished off an excellent movement as did Maesteg’s wing Neil Dixon. The third try came when Bridgend’s centre Leighton Thomas (playing at outside half) switched play with Maesteg’s centre Alun Brown, who then forced his way through under the posts. Bramwell converted two of the tries to ensure that it would take a big effort from Neath in the second half, if they were going to win this encounter
Whether it was their bodies advising them or their heads both Bateman and Boobyer (who have much experience of Neath second half comebacks) departed at half time as the Ospreys made several changes. However, the visitors were certainly up for winning but unfortunately a number of chances were lost through dropped passes while going over to score. Wing James Pike must have mistaken the word testimonial for charity as he wished to ensure Hogan’s night wouldn’t be blighted with a loss; he was guilty of losing out to a couple of those chances. The game was still in the balance (22-19) after two Neath tries (flanker Pengelly, hooker Price and a conversion by centre Bevan), however, it was with the final action of the match that Neath centre Wayne Mitchell scored a try that saved the blushing. Final score Neath 27 points Osprey Select 19.