Image courtesy: Simon Latham – https://simonlatham.smugmug.com/
By: Paul Hopkins
An incredible three late tries earned Swansea a sensational victory over Newport from an improbable position.
Lock Jack Regan collected a lineout inside the Newport half as the Whites looked to set a positive tone in the opening exchanges. Fly half Dan Edwards made a break and was brought down, but the visitors’ defence were penalised for offside. Edwards chose to kick to the corner.
The home pack rumbled towards the line but were illegally stopped a few metres short. Play was brought back for another home penalty and Dan Edwards again chose to chip to touch, but hooker Garan Williams failed to throw straight into the lineout.
Scrum half Luke Crane tried to switch play to the blindside, but prop Tom Sloane ripped the ball out of a tackle, although in his eagerness to take a quick tap penalty, scrum half Matthew Aubrey lost the ball forward.
Swansea’s woes in the scrum continued and they gave away a penalty, which fly half Will Reed chipped up to the 22. Further ill-discipline gave Newport another penalty, but Reed inexplicably kicked the ball out of the full.
A poor error by full back Dai Richards gifted the home side an attack inside the Black and Ambers’ half. This time the visitors gave away a penalty at the scrum and Dan Edwards made them pay with a simple three pointer.
Newport were awarded a penalty after the Whites failed to roll away after the tackle and Reed chipped deep into the corner. The visitors’ pack drove towards the line, but lost possession at the crucial moment.
Dan Edwards found touch on the Newport 22 with a penalty, but another malfunctioning lineout gave the visitors an opportunity to clear.
Winger Matthew Jenkins spilled a high ball under little pressure and the visitors were awarded a penalty at the next phase, but Reed’s effort at goal narrowly missed.
Dan Edwards’ drop out caught a gust of wind and bounced over the dead ball line to gift Newport a scrum on the 22. Centre Chay Foster-Smith made a break and handed off his opposite number, but the supporting winger Elliot Frewen was penalised for holding on after the tackle.
A clever delayed pass found lock Josh Skinner, but winger Gareth O Rees dealt with a Crane box kick. Full back Iestyn Hopkins injected pace into the backline, but centre Joe Hawkins dropped a pass.
Frewen raced 20 metres up-field after taking a short pass in midfield, but the supporting Crane was well tackled and play broke down soon after.
A superb 50-22 by Dan Edwards gave Swansea a late attacking lineout inside the 22. Centre Tom Florence tried to squeeze through at the corner but Skinner ripped the ball out of the tackle as the half time whistle sounded.
Half-time:- Swansea 3-0 Newport
Richards made a break straight from the restart and was supported by Crane, but Florence superbly nipped in to intercept a pass, though he was unable to get away from the Newport defence.
The home side gave away a penalty with Reed finding touch deep inside the Swansea 22. From the maul, Replacement centre Matt O’Brien chipped through for Foster-Smith to score an opportunist try. Reed converted.
Hopkins slipped as he tried to deal with a slippery ball with Newport turning over play, but number eight Ben Roach dropped a superb cross-field kick with the line at his mercy.
Play was brought back for a penalty though, which Reed successfully converted to extend his side’s lead to seven points.
Hooker Will Griffiths was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and Regan took the lineout as the home pack drove over half-way, but good defence by the visitors secured a turnover.
The home side dithered on their own line and were promptly turnover over by the Black and Ambers, leading to a penalty, which Reed slotted between the posts.
Hopkins made a superb break into the Swansea half and forced the Newport defence offside with Dan Edwards chipping to the corner. The home forwards inched towards the visitors’ line but replacement centre Luke Scully became isolated in midfield and gave away a penalty.
A superb 50/22 kick by O’Brien gave Newport an attacking lineout and an unstoppable drive to the line resulted in a try for replacement prop Luke Yendle. Reed converted.
The All Whites hit back when the backs put together a superb move with replacement scrum half Harvey Nash rounding off a well taken try. Dan Edwards converted.
And out of nothing the home side grabbed a second try when Hopkins burst through the middle and found Scully in support, who raced clear to score under the posts to set up a grandstand finish. Dan Edwards converted.
Replacement lock Chris Thompson made a break as Swansea looked for that last gasp try and a looping pass out wide found Hopkins, but he was brought down a few metres short.
Over 25 phases of play later, the ball was spread out wide to Jenkins, who squeezed over at the corner to score and send the home crowd into wild celebrations. Dan Edwards converted.
The two sides meet again next Saturday in the Indigo Group Cup.
Full-time:- Swansea 24-20 Newport
Tries:- Harvey Nash (79), Luke Scully (80+3), Matthew Jenkins (80+10)
Cons:- Dan Edwards (80, 80+4, 80+11)
Pens:- Dan Edwards (12)
Tries:- Chay Foster-Smith (46), Luke Yendle (76)
Cons:- Will Reed (47, 77)
Pens:- Will Reed (55, 67)
Yellow cards:- Will Griffiths (61)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Light Rain Showers, 14C
Man of the match:- Tristan Davies
15 Iestyn Hopkins
14 Matthew Jenkins
13 Tom Florence (rep: Luke Scully 65)
12 Joe Hawkins
11 Gareth O Rees (rep: Harri Houston 67)
10 Dan Edwards
9 Matthew Aubrey (rep: Harvey Nash 52)
1 Tom Sloane © (rep: Cameron Jones 65)
2 Garan Williams (rep: Garin Lloyd 44)
3 Ben Warren (rep: Richard Murphy 52)
4 Liam Edwards
5 Jack Regan (rep: Chris Thompson 65)
6 Tristan Davies
7 Callum Bowden
8 Jon Fox (rep: Morgan Morse 40)
16 Garin Lloyd
17 Cameron Jones
18 Richard Murphy
19 Chris Thompson
20 Morgan Morse
21 Harvey Nash
22 Luke Scully
23 Harri Houston
15 Dai Richards
14 Jon Morris (rep: Ioan Davies 67)
13 Chay Foster-Smith
12 Harri Ackerman (rep: Matt O’Brien 41)
11 Elliot Frewen
10 Will Reed
9 Luke Crane (rep: Che Hope 57)
1 Josh Reynolds (rep: Tom Workman 74)
2 Will Griffiths (rep: Jack Gillard 74)
3 Garin Harris (rep: Luke Yendle 65)
4 Craig Hudd
5 Josh Skinner
6 Ryan Woodman
7 Kyle Tayler (rep: Jack Gillard 65-74) (rep: Rhys Jenkins 74)
8 Ben Roach
16 Jack Gillard
17 Tom Workman
18 Luke Yendle
19 Dan Hill
20 Rhys Jenkins
21 Che Hope
22 Matt O’Brien
23 Ioan Davies