EBBW Vale coach Mike Ruddock has put the emphasis on the need for clinical finishing ahead of tomorrow's vital Welsh/Scottish League clash with Neath at Eugene Cross Park (kick-off 5.30pm).

Vale have shown excellent form lately with four wins from six games, but the two defeats away to Montauban and Swansea were games they could, perhaps should, have won.

"I've told the players we need to run harder inside the opposition 22," said Ruddock. "We are creating a lot of opportunities but we've got to start scoring.

"We are not nailing down opponents when we have the opportunity and have to make sure that every time we get into the opposition 22 we gain some reward."

Neath are three points ahead of Vale in the Welsh/Scottish League table, but have played two games fewer, and a win could take them into the top four.

Ruddock believes they are a much improved side under coach Lyn Jones.

"We lost at Swansea last week and Neath are playing better rugby than Swansea at the moment," he said.

"I was very impressed with them in their Celtic League quarter-final in Ulster (where they lost 38-29), particularly up front.

"They had a strong scrummage and an excellent lineout and Lee Jarvis keeps on kicking goals.

"Lyn Jones has taken them to the next level with their increased budget and acquisitions and they will be there or thereabouts in the championship at the end of the season. I respect Lyn enormously and like what he's doing at Neath, who are very positive, very dynamic."

Nevertheless Jones recently criticised Ruddock's Wales A squad, whom he was assisting, claiming there was no direction from the top (implying Graham Henry and other top officials rather than Ruddock) about the kind of team they should be selecting.

"I was surprised at his comments," said Ruddock, "as he was only with us for one meeting before going away to Bermuda with the Golden Oldies, but I don't want to go into that."

He added: "Neath represent a big challenge, but we are making progress and I would expect the lads to lift their game for this one."