P27 W9 D0 L18 : F583-A761 (Tries 63-91)
Premier League Record : P 26 W9 D0 L17 F570–A735 (Tries 62-88 )
Swalec Cup : P1 W0 L1 F13-A26 (Tries 1-3)
Premier League : 11th place
Capt : Andrew Brown
New players this season included young 17yr old academy player Hallam Amos who became Newport’s youngest ever Premier League player at 17yrs 21 days beating Jason Tovey – he was also the youngest ever Dragons starting player, tight-head Trystan Davies, wing / full-back Elliot Frewen, scrum-half Ryan James who filled in at No10 in the latter part of the season, hookers Sam Parry and Dale Rogers, centre Will Rees-Hole. No 8 Hywel Stoddart, flanker Carl Townsend and the outstanding No 6 Darren Waters. Newport used 53 players with 50 taking the field. 26 of this 53 were newcomers making their debuts.
It was not long before it became apparent that the problem positions were at half-backs and tight-head prop. Having said that scrum-half Jamie Leadbeater did sterling work at No 9 and even filled in at times as a successful place-kicker. Newport had hoped to have had No 10 Lewis Robling for the majority of the season but he was soon called into the regional Dragons team. Stalwart tight-head Gethin Robinson made one appearance of just 32 mins due to achilles heel operation and he suffered injury to the other leg in the match. The No 3 position was never filled satisfactorily and at times the Newport 8 suffered in set scrums. As for the previous season Newport again suffered from injuries and regional call-ups and coaches, Sven Cronk, Dai Gray and Jon Bryant were rarely able to field a settled consistent side. That said a number of players – some established and some new – at times failed to perform.
Newport under captain Craig Hill deservedly won the won the Men of Gwent 7s for the 4th consecutive time. They beat Cross keys in the final with wing Owen Broad being Man of the Tournament. There were two PSF wins against Rhymney (H) and Coventry (A) before the Premier League started with the visit of Llanelli RFC. This coincided with the opening of the magnificent Bisley Stand and Hospitality centre on Sept 3rd 2012. Newport did not turn up for the 1st half and left too much to do. They did rush into a 10-0 lead at the Brewery Field but fell away dramatically to crash to another defeat. Head coach Sven Cronk admitted that there was a lot of work to do. Neath at the Gnoll is always difficult but with the side making many basic errors another defeat followed. Confidence boosting wins followed at Rodney Parade against Pontypool and narrowly 36-33 against Carmarthen Quins. Newport then went down to Aberavon but to be fair regional calls robbed them of No 10 Lewis Robling and No 8 Hugh Ellis and three 1st half injuries did not help. Newport were a bit unlucky to lose at Sardis Rd and then beat bottom club Tonmawr (H). Lack of game control especially at half -back where they were without scrum-half Leadbeater – and some inexplicable refereeing decisions saw them lose to Llandovery (H). Then followed the club’s worst ever league run in the semi-pro era since 2003 when they lost no fewer than 8 consective matches. This included 30-32 vs Bridgend (H) when they were 30-18 up with 5 mins to go, first ever defeat to Carmarthen Quins (A) and a huge home defeat 22-40 against Cross Keys.
Things looked ominous for the visit to Cardiff Arms Park in the new year to face the “old enemy” but a magnificent performance including control at half-back with Matthew Jones and Jamie Leadbeater saw Newport to a 22-6 win. Newport then won at bottom club Tonmawr. Next up was the visit of Division 1 leaders Ebbw Vale in the Swalec Cup but the club was not helped by the unavailability of no fewer than 16 players due to injuries and regional calls.Interesting Bridgend and Aberavon were also hit by call ups the night before for the meaningless LV trophy match between Ospreys and Dragons and all 3 sides lost in the cup the next day. To be fair Ebbw Vale deserved their win as many Newport players failed to perform. The Steelmen went on to beat Carmarthen Quins and Swansea at home to reach the cup S/F only to lose on tries to Cross Keys in a 19-19 drawn match.Newport completed the double over Cardiff RFC .They went down at Talbot Athletic Grounds when the pack – particularly the front row – struggled. Newport also lost 1-2 on the penalty try count ! Excellent home wins were achieved against top clubs Neath and Pontypridd but a third tough game in 9 days proved too much at Pandy Park. Newport matched the Keys in the 1st half but then the wheels came off and Newport crashed to their worst ever Keys defeat 14-51. Struggling Swansea visited the Parade but they had similar problems to Newport and had used 75 players to date and were unable to field a consistent and settled side and the B&A’s ran out 32-21 winners. There then followed two demoralising away defeats – Llanelli (5-55) and Pontypool (17-27). The bonus point win tied ‘Poola” on points with Newport but below on tries and as Pontypool got no points from their last match at home to Llanelli they finished 11th and 12th respectively.
Pontypool RFC like Tonmawr RFC have been told by the WRU that they will not be part of next season’s 12 team Premier. It was to be 10 but the WRU back-tracked and allowed Bridgend and Carmarthen Quins in after sponsors said they would pick up the tab for two seasons ! All 12 sides are to be ring-fenced for 2 seasons ie no relegation and hence no promotion from Division 1 – which will be called the “Championship” next season. Newport RFC qualified as the 3rd best team on meritocracy over the last 6 seasons – behind Neath and Pontypridd – and meeting WRU’s “A” criteria.
Leading try scorer for Newport was newcomer Elliot Frewen with 11. He was one of the few backs to pose the opposition problems. Alan Awcock scored 7 tries but was hampered by injuries while wing Matthew Pewtner scored 6 from 13 games – his injury proved a cruel blow to Newport. Incredibly the leading points scorer was Lewis Robling on 86 pts having only played 8 games while just behind was Gareth Bowen on 84 followed by Jamie Leadbeater on 65pts.
Prop Dai Pattison and centre Scott Williams played in all 27 matches while wing / full-back Elliot Frewqen and hooker and captain Andrew Brown played in 25.
Season Awards :
FoNR Mascots – James Leadbeater and FoNR Community Player – Dale Rogers
Volunteers Award – Angela Sheppard & David Young
Clubman of Year – Steve Prosser
Coaches Player – James Leadbeater
Players Player – James Leadbeater
Tommy Vile Player of Year – Sam Waldron