By: Paul Hopkins
Two injury time tries saw the All Whites fall to a heartbreaking defeat to table toppers Newport in a classic at St Helen’s.
The Black and Ambers gained territory inside the opening minute when winger Llien Morgan was tackled into touch as he tried to attack from deep, but the visitors spilled possession forward.
Number eight Lennon Greggains then tried to run out of defence, but he was penalised for holding on after the tackle. Fly half James Davies had an opportunity to kick his side ahead but missed his effort at goal.
The Swansea pack was penalised for an infringement at the scrum with fly half Will Reed finding touch on the home 22. Centre Matt O’Brien chipped through for full back George Gladding to chase, but following an error, play was brought back for an earlier penalty, which Reed again kicked to the corner.
The Newport pack developed a maul from the lineout and after it was brought down scrum half Che Hope tried to dummy his way towards the line but was stopped just short and the home side secured an important turnover out wide.
It could have been an opening try for the visitors when both O’Brien and Gladding juggled with the ball as the visitors made yards, but the supporting winger Ioan Davies failed to gather the ball.
A superb lineout steal by Greggains gave Newport a turnover and winger Deon Smith chipped ahead to cause panic in the Whites’ defence. The ball went into touch, but the Black and Ambers stole the lineout and a superb break by O’Brien split the home defence, with a sharp pass out wide sending Davies over for a try. Reed missed the conversion.
The home side looked to have hit back immediately when centre Kieran Charles broke through the middle and sent scrum half Connor Tantum under the posts, but play was brought back for a forward pass. Newport brought down the resulting scrum, but James Davies missed his effort at goal.
Another Swansea attack began when Tantum made a half break and sent a looping pass out wide to Morgan, who in turn handed the ball to lock Matt Dodd. The visitors defended well though and secured a vital turnover with Reed clearing up to half way.
The outstanding number eight Ben Williams charged over half way but was brought down before he could get up a head of steam and Morgan chipped through, forcing Gladding to clear in a hurry. Swansea were able to recycle the ball and full back Gareth Rees raced down the wing, but Newport were penalised for tackling a player off the ball.
James Davies opted to chip into touch a couple of metres from the line, but a poor lineout throw by hooker Garan Williams was gratefully collected by the Black and Ambers.
Dodd almost broke through a tackle and the visitors’ forwards were penalised for killing the attack. This time James Davies chose to kick at goal from a straightforward position and bagged his side’s first points.
The Whites’ first try came just before half time and it was a moment of brilliance. Josh Carrington superbly collected a high ball and broke through a tackle, racing 60 metres upfield to score under the posts. James Davies converted.
Half-time:- Swansea 10-5 Newport
A handling error by the visitors at the restart gifted the All Whites a scrum on the 22, but Rees failed to spread the ball out to Morgan and the move broke down.
The visitors controlled a lineout maul and continued to attack inside the Whites’ 22 with centre Jon Morris brought down a couple of metres short. The Black and Ambers quickly recycled the ball out for GreggaIns to score. Reed converted.
Swansea tried to hit back immediately and a barnstorming run by Ben Williams took play up to the Newport line as the defence was unable to get him down. He found Billy Moxey in support, but the flanker was held up over the line.
James Davies and Tantum combined superbly with the latter almost scoring under the posts. Swansea got quick ball out wide with replacement lock George Young penalised for killing the attack, earning himself a yellow card in the process.
The home side camped on the Newport line, but Tantum tried to force a short pass and the move broke down.
The Newport forwards then mauled over the 22, but Swansea secured a turnover and Morris was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
Tantum darted over the 22 and the supporting Rees was brought down, but the Black and Ambers’ were spared after referee Elgan Williams stopped play for a head injury. From the scrum the ball was fed out wide to Rees but a poor pass by flanker Callum Bowden sailed over the whitewash into touch.
Replacement flanker Ben Roach charged down a Liam Seaward kick to give Newport a rare attacking chance, but an outstanding Swansea defence forced a mistake.
The home side scored a second try when replacement hooker Owen Thomas powered out of a tackle to race 30 metres upfield, finding scrum half Seaward and centre Hanno Dirksen in support, before Seaward looped around to score. Replacement winger Liam Popham converted.
A mistake by Dirksen at the restart put Swansea under immediate pressure and the visitors kept their cool to send O’Brien over for a try at the corner to tie the scores. The fly half also converted to take his side back into the lead.
O’Brien tried a drop goal from deep but his effort sailed wide of the post. Instead, Davies picked up a loose ball on the wing, chipped through and a favourable bounce saw him score in the corner to seal a bonus point victory. O’Brien missed the conversion, which meant Swansea kept a losing bonus point..
Full-time:- Swansea 17-24 Newport
Tries:- Josh Carrington (37), Liam Seaward (77)
Cons:- James Davies (38), Liam Popham (78)
Pens:- James Davies (35)
Tries:- Ioan Davies (14, 80+5), Lennon Greggains (44), Matt O’Brien (80+1)
Cons:- Will Reed (45), Matt O’Brien (80+2)
Yellow cards:- George Young (50), Jon Morris (65)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Clear, 10C
Referee:- Elgan Williams
Man of the match:- Ioan Davies
15 George Gladding
14 Ioan Davies
13 Jon Morris
12 Matt O’Brien
11 Deon Smith
10 Will Reed (rep: Jack Brookes 70)
9 Che Hope
1 Josh Reynolds (rep: Harry Fry 70)
2 James Benjamin (rep: Jack Gillard 67)
3 Dan Suter (rep: Tom Piper 79)
4 Andrew Mann (rep: George Young 41)
5 Rhodri Jones
6 Rhys Jenkins
7 Josh Reid (rep: Ben Roach 54)
8 Lennon Greggains
16 Jack Gillard
17 Harry Fry
18 Tom Piper
19 George Young
20 Ben Roach
21 Geraint Watkin
22 Jack Brookes
23 Mathew Powell
15 Gareth Rees
14 Josh Carrington (rep: Liam Popham 59)
13 Hanno Dirksen
12 Kieran Charles
11 Llien Morgan
10 James Davies (rep: Curtis Davies 79)
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Liam Seaward 70)
1 Tom Northy (rep: Tom Sloane 54)
2 Garan Williams (rep: Owen Thomas 67)
3 Jordan Pritchard (rep: Alun Dew 62)
4 Matt Dodd ©
5 Ben Gregory
6 Billy Moxey (rep: Leon McNally 62)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Ben Williams
16 Owen Thomas
17 Tom Sloane
18 Alun Dew
19 Liam Edwards
20 Leon McNally
21 Liam Seaward
22 Liam Popham
23 Curtis Davies