By: Paul Hopkins
A gutsy Swansea side came up short at Newport Stadium as the Black and Ambers secured a bonus point victory.
It was a perfect start for the visitors when hooker Owen Thomas took a quick tap free kick and a superb break by winger Matthew Jenkins on the blind side saw the supporting winger Cori Lewis-Jenkins take a pass and speed over for a try. Fly half James Davies converted.
An over eager Swansea backline strayed in front of a James Davies high kick, allowing fly half Matt Bancroft to find touch inside the visitors’ 22 with a penalty, although hooker Henry Palmer failed to throw straight into the lineout and the move broke down.
Lock Craig Hudd took a lineout on halfway with the supporting Palmer powering forward to set up an attacking platform. Flanker Callum Bowden half charged down a chip through, but Newport regained possession through an attacking scrum.
The Black and Ambers controlled the set piece and got quick ball out wide to Walker Price, but the winger was tackled into touch inside the 22.
Newport came again though with Bancroft close to spotting a gap in the middle and fly half Matt O’Brien wriggling to within a metre of the line, before the ball was recycled out wide for winger Elliot Frewen to touch down in the corner. O’Brien converted.
Prop Tom Sloane took an unorthodox lineout, but with the Newport defence up in his face, James Davies opted to find touch inside the home 22.
Lock Matt Dodd collected a lineout on half way and the All Whites’ pack drove forward with a rolling maul. Swansea were awarded a penalty after the Black and Ambers failed to roll away after the tackle and James Davies found touch on the 22, but his side lost out at the lineout.
A superb scrummaging set piece by the visitors pushed their counterparts off the ball, earning a penalty. James Davies kicked his side back into the lead.
A clever crossfield kick by O’Brien almost resulted in a second Newport try, but the bounce evaded the chasing Frewen into touch. Play was brought back for an earlier penalty though and O’Brien chipped into the corner.
A powerful drive by the home forwards saw Palmer crash over for a try, which was given after a long deliberation between referee Steffan Edwards and his touch judge. O’Brien converted.
Lewis-Jenkins took a high ball on the run and forced back row men George Young and Ben Roach into committing an offside offence. James Davies found touch a few metres from the Newport line and after the Whites threw the kitchen sink at the line, an outstanding Black and Ambers’ defence held out and forced an error.
Half-time:- Newport 14-10 Swansea
Replacement lock Sam Martin took a lineout on half way and the Whites’ forwards inched forward, although James Davies’ long pass out wide to Matthew Jenkins was dealt with by the home defence.
Bancroft misjudged a clearance kick, which was taken back into his own 22, gifting the visitors an attacking lineout, although they made a complete mess of the set piece.
A superb move involving full back Ioan Davies and scrum half Luke Crane created space out wide and a clever grubber kick forward was almost taken by O’Brien, but he was illegally nudged out of the way by scrum half Gareth J Rees, giving Edwards no other option but to award a penalty try and send the winger to the sidelines for 10 minutes.
To their credit, the visitors were straight back up the other end of the pitch from the restart and a clever chip through by James Davies was collected by centre Osian Knott, who dived over to score under the posts. James Davies converted.
Another chip and chase by James Davies was taken by centre Tom Florence, who made good yards over half way. Thomas made a break down the wing and Frewen was penalised for deliberate offside, and also shown a yellow card.
Thomas turned over possession and sent Knott on a run down the wing, but he was unable to release the crucial pass to Lewis-Jenkins and the chance went to waste.
The home side was penalised for an infringement at the scrum and James Davies chose to chip deep into the corner. Young rose high to steal the lineout though.
A superb interception by the home side saw play switch 40 metres upfield, forcing Swansea to panic and give away a penalty. O’Brien turned down the kickable penalty to force a lineout in the corner.
It proved the right decision as the Newport pack created an unstoppable maul with prop Nathan Evans crashing over for a try. O’Brien converted.
A superb chip and chase by replacement scrum half Che Hope from his own 22 forced James Davies to walk into touch a few metres from his own line. The home side got the ball out from the lineout with the pack patiently building, before substitute fly half Geraint O’Driscoll held on after the tackle.
Swansea were straight back on the attack though with Florence sprinting down the wing, but he was tackled into touch. The visitors continued to use their backs to good effect as they looked to find a way back into the game, but replacement winger Willis Wood was turned over inside the 22.
It was simply end-to-end rugby with the Black and Ambers spotting gaps in the Swansea defence. Replacement prop Cameron Jones was shown a yellow card for his part in killing the attack, also resulting in passive scrums for the remainder of the match.
A long pass out wide to Price saw the winger burst into the 22, but O’Brien dropped the ball in midfield to end the move.
Knott made a superb 20 metres break as the visitors went in search of a bonus point try, although James Davies’ crossfield kick sailed into touch with no chaser on the wing. Play was brought back for a penalty though and Swansea chose a scrum.
It paid off as a routine scrum saw Knott use his pace and power to score under the posts. James Davies drop kicked the conversion.
But in the final minutes Price put the game beyond doubt when the backs capitalised on a Swansea mistake to send the winger stretching over for a try in the corner. O’Brien missed the conversion.
With seconds remaining on the clock James Davies found touch inside the Newport 22 with a penalty, but Hudd stole the lineout and the home side were able to clear.
Full-time:- Newport 33-24 Swansea
Tries:- Walker Price (18, 80+1), Henry Palmer (33), Penalty Try (46), Nathan Evans (64)
Cons:- Matt O’Brien (19, 34, 65)
Yellow cards:- Elliot Frewen (52)
Tries:- Cori Lewis-Jenkins (5), Osian Knott (49, 79)
Cons:- James Davies (6, 50, 80)
Pens:- James Davies (29)
Yellow cards:- Gareth J Rees (46), Cameron Jones (72)
Venue:- Newport Stadium, Newport
Weather:- Cloudy, 12C
Referee:- Steffan Edwards
Man of the match:- Henry Palmer
15 Ioan Davies
14 Elliot Frewen
13 Chay Foster-Smith (rep: Dafydd Buckland 77)
12 Matt O’Brien
11 Walker Price
10 Matt Bancroft (rep: Geraint O’Driscoll 58)
9 Luke Crane (rep: Che Hope 50)
1 Josh Reynolds (rep: Thomas Davies 52)
2 Henry Palmer
3 Nathan Evans (rep: Garin Harris 68)
4 Alex Grey (rep: Rhys Jenkins 72)
5 Craig Hudd
6 George Young
7 Josh Reid (rep: Kyle Tayler 68)
8 Ben Roach
16 Jack Gillard
17 Thomas Davies
18 Garin Harris
19 Rhys Jenkins
20 Kyle Tayler
21 Che Hope
22 Geraint O’Driscoll
23 Dafydd Buckland
15 Gareth O Rees
14 Cori Lewis-Jenkins (rep: Willis Wood 65)
13 Tom Florence
12 Osian Knott
11 Matthew Jenkins
10 James Davies
9 Gareth J Rees (rep: Dan Roderick 65)
1 Tom Sloane © (rep: Cameron Jones 29)
2 Owen Thomas (rep: Garan Williams 65)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Oli Rees 72)
4 Tristan Davies (rep: Sam Martin 33)
5 Matt Dodd
6 Lewis Ellis-Jones
7 Callum Bowden
8 Scott Jenkins (rep: Sam Richards 65)
16 Garan Williams
17 Cameron Jones
18 Oli Rees
19 Sam Martin
20 Sam Richards
21 Dan Roderick
22 Liam Popham
23 Willis Wood