AN under-strength Narberth side exerted real pressure on Neath with director of rugby Sean Gale hugely proud of his players despite the opening loss at home to one of the WRU Championship league contenders.

Neath came away from the Lewis-Lloyd Ground with a 30-22 victory in the first game of a truncated championship season this year, with only one game played between each side and no relegation.

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Gale said he was enormously proud of his players who put on a good show under difficult circumstances.

“We knew they were going to be a challenge. We ourselves lost a few players, five this week through injuries and unavailability so we were a bit defeated today but I was really proud of my players. I thought they stood up and to be honest I thought we were unlucky to lose.”

Two controversial decisions flipped the game with referee Lloyd Hughes deeming Neath 18 not to have obstructed Otter’s J Roberts as he chipped through and tried to run for the corner.

Then Otter’s captain Richie Rees was sinned binned for being offside, ending his game early. From the card Neath won a lineout and drove over the line, Arron Graham getting the try to put the game beyond doubt.

“I thought that was a real harsh decision,” said Gale of his captain’s dismissal. “We had a chance before on the left when John Roberts chipped over and their loose head obstructed him clearly and he did not get a yellow card. I was mystified by some of the ref's decisions if I am honest with you. I do not think he was great for the two teams today.”