Division Three West A: Pembroke Dock Harlequins 53–23 Neyland

A big day for Pembroke Dock Harlequins didn’t disappoint as they ran in nine tries against Neyland and have now started the 2019/20 season with back to back wins.

Club sponsors and guests were present to help form a large crowd at Bierspool, although it was only in the second half they cut loose against a Neyland side that turned around at half time still bang in the contest at 15-11 down.

Summer of change:

The Quins, who stayed in the WRU structure by the skin of their teeth after failing to complete their 2017/18 season, have been rejuvenated this summer with a host of players returning - most notably Jack Price from Narberth.

Winning at Lampeter last week meant heightened expectations for today - especially given Neyland have lost personnel this summer due to players moving clubs or switching codes.

And yet they arrived at the Dock with a full squad and the opening stages were back and for as both teams went at each other with a real intensity.

A ding-dong first half:

It was the home side who struck first after dominating possession in the early going, the try coming when Jordan Asparassa broke through on half-way and had the pace to arc his run down the left wing and score in the corner.

That went unconverted and then as soon as Neyland got ball in hand they too threatened, and soon they were back at 5-5 after great link play between skipper George Evans, Luke Griffiths-Dawes, and No 8 Iestyn Evans set up winger Henry McBeth to dive over in the corner.

Further pressure followed as Toby Hayman’s grubber kick through resulted in a close range scrum and after forwards Chad Monk, Iestyn and brother Owain Evans all went close with charges it was home centre Price who was yellow carded for stopping a quick penalty.

The Quins survived that onslaught but The All Blacks were also getting the upper hand in the lineout and from one win against the throw they set up a penalty chance for Hayman – and the No 10 obliged from 25 metres.

The home team responded but after opting to kick a penalty into the corner, lost the chance when hooker Marcus Phillips was penalised for delaying the throw – but still with 14 men they re-took the lead from a scrum 10 metres out No 9 Elliot Lewis sharply broke blind and made the corner.

That made it 10-8 and The Quins went close again when Bronzac Burley, on for the injured Josh Brown, hared down the left but was denied by a super cover tackle from Neyland full back Mark Riley.

The third try did come though when Price, similarly to how Asparassa had done earlier, burst through in midfield and made the corner.

Again though the visitors responded and hooker Phillips also went to the bin for The Quins for infringing by his own posts, and Hayman kicked the resulting penalty which meant just a four point deficit at the break.

Quins cut loose:

But the start of the second half was one sided, and two early tries essentially ended the contest.

First No 10 Kieran Machin, whose influence grew as time went on, dummied his way through and set up a try for prop Liam Smith to seal the bonus point.

Another break and inside pass from Machin saw Burley again hauled down just short – but from the pressure that followed it was winger Jordan Kokolin who crossed out wide and finally, Hathaway landed a conversion to make it 27-11.

With the Neyland defence clearly tiring Asparassa wriggled free from two tackles to go under the posts for Hathaway to again add the extras and then seven more points came in almost cruel fashion - McBeth bursting into the Dock 22 only for the ball to go loose and be gathered by Price, who raced 80 metres to score at the other end.

Rather than fade away Neyland did fight back though, and they notched a second try when from a driving lineout flanker Owain Evans touched down – only for replacement Dan Manning to immediately respond by scoring from an overlap for The Quins.

The All Blacks then raised hopes of a late bonus point with a third try as another replacement in Craig Power buried over from close range, Hayman adding two points, but it was The Quins who had the final word when Hathaway himself crossed for a try he then converted.

Foundations to build on:

It was an open, often frenzied 80 minutes, but it made for great entertainment. Both sides played loosely, looked for off loads and ran quick tap penalties – and ultimately second half it was The Quins who looked like the side to have already played this season as Neyland dropped off the pace.

Neil Machin will know his side are far from the finished article but unlike last season, they have good numbers to work with and even made a host of changes from that win in Lampeter. They will have to adapt their style when the winter weather draws in but whenever they have parity up front, they will be a threat especially with Price and Asparassa in midfield.

As for Neyland, they are a long way from the crisis that some have speculated about. They too were a real threat with ball in hand and fronted up physically in the first 40 minutes as well – with three great individual finishes the difference at the break.

They fell away second half but with more game time under their belts, they’ll improve.


“Neyland really made it hard for us in the first half an hour and fair play to them they kept pushing to the end,” said Quins coach Machin.

“But overall I’m pleased. It was part of the game plan to try and run it and take quick penalties and we scored some good tries.”

Neyland team manager Peter Davies was also positive: “We had some new boys coming in, and some old boys who returned, and this gives us something to build on.”

Man of the match - Jordan Asparassa:

In the opening minutes the Quins battered away at Neyland and there was no way through. Then from nowhere Asparassa burst through and from 50 metres, comfortably had the pace to outstrip the cover.

He went over again in the second half revelled as the space opened up. I suspect he’ll rack up a healthy try count in this division by May next year.

Pembroke Dock: Ben Hathaway, Jordan Kokolin, Jordan Asparassa, Jack Price, Josh Brown, Kieran Machin, Elliot Lewis, Liam Smith, Marcus Phillips, Jack Davies, Ben Gibby, Danny Mcleod, Martin Culley, Harry Owen, Ollie Parsons. Replacements: Hywel Baker, Dan Manning, Dai Moseley, Bronzac Burley, Dan Goodrgdge.

Neyland: Mark Riley, Josh Hamer, George Williams, Ben Williams, Henry McBeth, Toby Hayman, Jack Richards, Chad Monk, Jack Harries, Eugene Grice, Mark James, Luke Griffiths-Dawes, Steve Hamer, Owen Evans, Iestyn Evans. Replacements: Richard Banner, Craig Power, Steven Roberts, Mark Hamer, Steve Evans, Josh Hamer.

Referee: Matthew Evans.