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By: Paul Hopkins
The Black and Ambers rose to the top of the second tier with a comprehensive bonus point win over Swansea in an ill-tempered affair at Rodney Parade.
It was the best possible start for the home side when full back Llywarch ap Myrddin fielded a loose kick and raced past a hapless Whites defence to score under the posts. Fly half Arwel Robson converted.
The All Whites almost hit back immediately when fly half Laurance Howley showed great pace and agility to sprint up to the twenty-two, only for his pass to fall into the grateful hands of a Newport player.
Swansea were back on the attack, but the move was halted when a massive fight erupted in midfield. Referee Dewi Phillips kept his hand out of his pocket, instead giving both captains a lecture.
Centre Joe Jenkins, making his Whites debut, made a superb break through the middle, which should have resulted in a try, but he failed to spot the man inside and the promising move broke down.
The visitors enjoyed a great deal of possession in the opening quarter but tended to waste it more often than not by kicking the ball away.
Scrum half Rhodri Wells superbly caught a high ball and sent winger Tom Williams on a run up to the twenty-two. Newport were penalised for killing the ball and full back Josh Martin made no mistake with his effort at goal.
Centre David Watts profited from a quick free kick, breaking a tackle and sending prop Mitchell Walsh powering forward. The move was interrupted by another fight, this time with Whites flanker Jack Perkins and Newport lock Adam Brown sent to the sin-bin for their part in the melee.
The home backs began a counterattack with winger Jon Morris close to scoring in the corner. Swansea stole possession, but Watts was penalised for holding on after the tackle. Robson kicked to the corner, although lock Tudor Hughes stole the lineout, allowing his side to clear their lines,
Whites winger Jedd Evans picked up a loose ball and sprinted up to the twenty-two, finding Watts in support. The home defence were penalised for killing the ball, but the decision was reversed when prop Tom Sloane was adjudged to have thrown a punch. He was also given his marching orders for ten minutes.
Martin had an opportunity to cut the deficit after the home pack were penalised for an infringement at the scrum, but he hit the post.
Three minutes later Martin was handed a chance to make amends when Newport failed to release the man in the tackle. It was the exact same result though as the full back again hit the post.
The Black and Ambers scored an important try on the stroke of half time when Robson sprinted through a gap in midfield, splitting the Swansea defence. Centre Haydn Palmer provided good support and he handed a pass for fellow centre Chay Smith to touch down. Robson converted.
Half-time:- Newport 14 Swansea 3
The All Whites knew they had to score the next try to be realistically in with a chance of victory and they were on the front foot immediately after the interval.
Tom Williams caught a high ball and made good yards upfield, forcing Newport offside. Wells took a quick tap penalty and fed Walsh, who battered the defence. A box kick by Wells found touch deep inside the home twenty-two, but Robson cleared following the lineout.
The home side were penalised for pulling down a man at the lineout, but Martin missed his third successful penalty attempt.
Newport were back on the attack and a neat move by their backs exploited a gap out wide, although ap Myrddin crucially spilled possession forward.
A half break by Hughes saw the visitors edge forward, but ill-discipline yet again was their downfall. This time replacement centre Rhys Williams saw yellow for fighting.
With the man advantage Morris was desperately close to scoring out wide after he brushed past two tackles, but he was bundled into touch just five metres short of the line. From the lineout scrum half Ryan James looked to have scored but the Whites were given a reprieve as he lost the ball forward.
Robson raced up to within a metre of the line, but was driven back by a dogged Swansea defence. Sloane then intercepted a pass, but Martin handed possession back to the home side with a loose kick. It proved fatal as the Black and Ambers swung the ball out wide for number eight Rhys Jenkins to score. Robson converted.
Jenkins became the second Newport to visit the sin-bin after he was penalised for a dangerous tackle.
The Whites used the extra man to camp inside the Newport twenty-two. Firstly, Hughes was held up just short, and then the home side could do nothing to stop replacement hooker Paul John from powering over for a try. With time running out Howley converted with a drop kick.
With the result beyond doubt, both sides still had plenty to play for as a bonus point was still available for either team. It was the Black and Ambers who got quick ball out of a scrum for replacement full back Matt O’Brien to score. Robson converted.
Next up for Newport is a trip to Bargoed, while the All Whites round off their season by hosting Neath.
Full-time:- Newport 28 Swansea 10
Tries:- Llydwarch ap Myrddin (1), Chay Smith (40+3), Rhys Jenkins (61), Matt O’Brien (80+4)
Cons:- Arwel Robson (2, 40+4, 62, 80+5)
Yellow cards:- Adam Brown (23), Rhys Jenkins (69)
Tries:- Paul John (79)
Cons:- Laurance Howley (80)
Pens:- Josh Martin (17)
Yellow cards:- Jack Perkins (23), Tom Sloane (28), Rhys Williams (54)
Venue:- Rodney Parade, Newport
Referee:- Dewi Phillips
Weather:- Sunny, 17C
Man of the match:- Arwel Robson
15 Llywarch ap Myrddyn (rep: Matt O’Brien 80)
14 Elliot Frewen
13 Haydn Palmer
12 Chay Smith (rep: Tom Riley 62)
11 Jon Morris
10 Arwel Robson
9 Ryan James
1 Matt Prosser (rep: Nick Boyce 51)
2 Henry Palmer (rep: Will Evans 51)
3 Garin Harris (rep: Tom Piper 51)
4 Adam Brown © (rep: James Little 69)
5 Dan Partridge
6 Rhodri Jones
7 Kyle Tayler
8 Rhys Jenkins
16 Will Evans
17 Tom Piper
18 Nick Boyce
19 Dan Mock
20 James Little
21 Tom Pascoe
22 Matt O’Brien
23 Tom Riley
15 Josh Martin
14 Jedd Evans
13 Joe Jenkins
12 David Watts (rep: Rhys Williams 48)
11 Tom Williams (rep: Dan Kenny 34-39)
10 Laurance Howley
9 Rhodri Wells (rep: Matthew Aubrey 59)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Dan Kenny 77)
2 Ricky Guest (rep: Paul John 69)
3 Mitchell Walsh (re: Fenton Holder 77)
4 Jon Fox (rep: Gavin Bilton 77)
5 Tudor Hughes
6 Jon Vaughan ©
7 Jack Perkins (rep: Gavin Bilton 62-69)
8 Rory Gallagher
16 Paul John
17 Dan Kenny
18 Fenton Holder
19 Gavin Bilton
20 Steffan Gibbon
21 Matthew Aubrey
22 Mike Jones
23 Rhys Williams
By Paul Hopkins