Principality Premiership rugby was put on hold for a couple of weeks in order to give the Fosters Challenge Cup time to breathe. Newport have again been pooled on a geographical basis with near neighbours Bedwas RFC and Cross Keys RFC. Bedwas did very well in this competition last year, being beaten finalists at Bridgend’s Brewery Field giving Pontypridd RFC a huge fright in the second half of that game. Indeed, in the same competition last season, Bedwas handed Newport a fearful battering at the Bridge Field, 46-0.
The Foster’s Challenge Cup has been used as a vehicle, by many teams, to blood new players and give squad members some valuable game time. Current squad members like Dan Mock and Kyle Tayler acquitted themselves very well in these games last year while on permit and now find themselves regularly part of Newport’s matchday squad, so the exercise is well worth undertaking.
To the game. Former Newport player James Dixon got things underway and, from the outset, Bedwas looked determined. Rather than their usual black and white colours, Bedwas were in a change kit of red with green flashes and a broad green band through the number on the back of the jersey. They kept ball well and were always looking to pass out of the tackle. Home second row Geraint Edmunds showed up well in a few purposeful charges, releasing centre Gabriel Davies who threatened briefly. Bedwas kept the ball for a full two and a half minutes before a careless knock on let Newport off the hook. Newport were able to clear the lines. Tom Riley brought Haydn Palmer in on an angled run and, from recycled ball, Matt O’Brien was able to slot a smart drop goal over Bedwas’ posts to make the score Bedwas 0 Newport 3 on 4 minutes.
Bedwas full back Garyn Payne placed a super kick towards Newport’s line soon afterwards as Bedwas tried to stamp their authority. From his own 22, the ball landed around Newport’s 40 metre line then skidded and slipped along the surface of the pitch and finally crawled out on Newport’s five metre line. The kick wasn’t rewarded as Newport’s Jack Goodey secured the lineout then Bedwas number 8, Josh Hayward, couldn’t resist getting himself offside whilst challenging for the ball.
A Bedwas infringement on ten minutes gave Matt O’Brien a chance at a penalty which he duly took, making a Newport lead of 0-6.
Newport were doing well, neat inter-passing between ball carrier and supporting runners making ground towards the Bedwas line before the ball was spun wide. The ball reached Llywarch ap Myrddin who was caught and stripped of possession and passed out to Bedwas wing Philip Pariyo, as quick a wing as you’ll see in this competition. Effectively, it was jink, jink and away and a try under the posts running in eighty metres to score. Dixon converted to make it Bedwas 7 Newport 6 on 15 minutes.
Minutes later and Bedwas scored a second. Winger Andy Evans made a strong run in front of the spectator’s terrace only to be caught by Matt O’Brien. Evans sat upright and made a pass out to supporting hooker Nathan Huish who galloped over the line. Dixon added the conversion again to make it Bedwas 14 Newport 6 on 20 minutes.
Aeron Bidgood was having a good evening at the base of the scrum, his long and accurate passes giving Matt O’Brien an extra yard of room in which to act while Jack Goodey seemed to relish being back in the hurly-burly of it all. It was such a pass by Bidgood that gave O’Brien an extra half a second to find Haydn Palmer. Palmer found a path through the defence and sprinted away, rounding the posts and scoring under the crossbar. O’Brien’s conversion was good making it Bedwas 14 Newport 13 on 27 minutes.
Remarkably, from the restart, Wes Cunliffe received the ball and threaded his way through the Bedwas defence without a finger being laid upon him. He found Tom Riley in support who carried on the charge before Riley found second row Andrew Mann, on permit to Newport from his parent club Brynmawr RFC, who strode home towards the corner flag scoring Newport’s second try. O’Brien added the conversion again to make it Bedwas 14 Newport 20 on 28 minutes.
The game was really opening up as Bedwas scored another try, this time through No.8 Josh Hayward, the passing out of the tackle being prominent in the move and executed well on this occasion. James Dixon added the conversion to make it Bedwas 21 Newport 20 on 30 minutes.
On the stroke of half time, Newport got their noses in front again. Bedwas had been pushing for more scores but had infringed. Newport’s penalty resulted in a line out about thirty metres from the Bedwas line. The smooth action of Bidgood’s pass allowed O’Brien to weigh up his options before he chipped the oncoming defenders, gathered his own kick and passed to Haydn Palmer who fed the ball back to O’Brien who had carried on his supporting run and he scored his try near the posts to make his conversion attempt simpler. The outcome was a 21-27 lead to Newport at half time.
Halftime – Bedwas RFC 21 Newport RFC 27
The wind picked up noticeably at half time, lazily gusting across field whilst bring the temperature down a few degrees. Still, the game was entertaining enough not to really notice such things. Matt O’Brien got proceedings started and Newport continued much of what they had been doing well in the first half. They protected the ball quite well and, when lost, they hurried into defensive positions quickly. Bedwas winger Pariyo was almost away on the 45th minute but the pass to him was both high and behind him, otherwise he was clear.
Matt O’Brien angled a long, searching kick to the corner where replacement Bedwas wing Saipolu Uhi, on permit from Cross Keys RFC, was alone. Uhi flapped at the bobbling ball whilst Llywarch ap Myrddin was bearing down on him. Uhi found assistance in centre Mike Callow who carried and passed back to Uhi but the clearing was inaccurate and Newport won the ball back. A swift pass to O’Brien, which would have made vital ground at least, was judged forward. Bedwas tried to clear but aggressive Newport clearing out, notably by Tom Riley in particular, gave Bedwas little to work with.
Matt O’Brien, his contribution made for the evening, gave way to Simon Veall, on permit from Newbridge RFC, who made his presence felt immediately. From a Newport line out, Veall received a pass before soft hands found Llywarch ap Myrrdin running on to the ball at speed, slicing the Bedwas defence in two. He was nearly, nearly collared but survived colliding with the left-hand upright pads to dot down in the shadow of the posts. Simon Veall added the regulation conversion to make it Bedwas 21 Newport 34 on 58 minutes.
Bedwas clawed a try back, their try bonus point, on 61 minutes when full back Garyn Payne scored. James Dixon had gone close but scrum half Luke Crane moved the ball wide for Payne to score in the corner. The conversion was missed making the score Bedwas 26 Newport 34.
Luke Crane was nearly on the scoreboard himself moments later after Uhi had brought centre Mike Callow on the scissors. Crane was in support but determined Newport tackling stopped the move and the Black and Ambers were able to clear. Then Uhi himself was almost through but was neatly shepherded into touch by Myrddin.
Llywarch ap Myrddin was unlucky not to get a second try for himself on 75 minutes. A well-executed punt from Veall had the ball rolling end over end towards touch. The Bedwas defender couldn’t possibly have read the bounce the ball took next as it ballooned over his head but ‘Larry’ was quickest to react as he followed up. Sadly, as he gathered the ball his boot stood square on the touch line. Unlucky, but Newport were still fighting to secure the win.
Newport were awarded a scrum on the Bedwas 22. It was cleanly won and replacement scrum half Ryan Bates, on permit from Croesyceiliog RFC, started the phases. Eventually Bates fed the ball out to marauding prop Tom Piper, who had spent the rest of the game doing the unseen hard work that gets ignored by many. Piper burst through the line but had his shirt pulled. As Piper approached the line the shirt was being pulled tighter and tighter, becoming a tug o’ war between him and the defender. Piper’s momentum was enough to carry him over the line. Simon Veall added the conversion to make it Bedwas 26 Newport 41.
Bedwas huffed and puffed looking for a consolation but were let down by inaccurate handling before the game finally drew to a conclusion.
This was a decent run out for Newport RFC who seem to have been low on confidence of late. They did much the same things that they would have done in a Principality Premiership game but they seemed to work on this occasion. There was a noticeable lack of unforced errors on Newport’s part, something that has been killing our league form, so, hopefully, Messrs. Warlow and Morris’ message is beginning to sink in!
It would be remiss of our club not to publicly thank the clubs that have allowed us to permit their players into the Newport squad. We thank Brynmawr RFC, Caerleon RFC, Croesyceiliog RFC, Newbridge RFC and Risca RFC for their co-operation.
Newport RFC’s next fixture is the next round of Foster’s Challenge Cup games. We face our friends from Cross Keys RFC at Rodney Parade next Wednesday, the 19th October, kicking off at 7.15pm.
We hope that you can join us!
Man Of The Match – Haydn Palmer
FINAL SCORE _ Bedwas RFC 26 Newport RFC 41