After an exhilarating performance against the self-styled North Wales ‘Region’ last Monday, Newport travelled to Bargoed Park with a justified sense of confidence. It would be the two sides first meeting in the Principality Premiership after their promotion last season. Indeed, Newport supporters need little reminding that it was Bargoed’s success in the Championship a few years ago, coupled with the lack of a necessary ‘A’ license that prevented their promotion and saved Newport’s skin from demotion after a terrible season for the Black and Ambers.
Newport fielded a re-shuffled team in order to rest some campaigners and get a few up to speed for the end of season, and vaguely baffling, ‘split’ which becomes a mini-championship in itself. In effect there was little on this game barring pride.
Matt O’Brien kicked off with Jon Morris, a late deputy for the unavailable Wes Cunliffe, chasing hard and challenging for the ball. Newport were attacking from the outset. Kyle Tayler was almost through from a ruck until a blue-shirted defender failed to release Tayler in the tackle and the referee, Mr Gwyn Morris, awarded Newport a penalty. O’Brien’s attempt went harmlessly wide of the uprights.
Better luck for O’Brien soon followed as a rare strike ‘against the head’ in a scrum by Henry Palmer soon had the Bargoed scrum infringing and Mr Morris awarded Newport another penalty. O’Brien’s shot at goal was good, Newport lead 0-3 on the fourth minute.
As play went on, the game became slowly more attritional as the big, heavy Bargoed forwards drove time and time again at the Newport defence. It took a moment of Matt O’Brien talent to give the spectators something else to watch. O’Brien cut back against the drifting defenders, danced his way around three of them before feeding Haydn Palmer. Palmer sprinted up field finding Rhodri Jones in support. Jones looked to find his support but, as the defence closed in, he struggled to get a half-decent pass away and the chance was missed. From the scrum, no.8 Ross Coombs, formerly of this parish, biffed his way out of the Bargoed 22. The ball fell to scrum half James Pizey who found a route through some poor Newport tackling up to the Newport 22 but he was quickly penalised for holding on in the tackle.
If Newport had the upper hand in the early exchanges then Bargoed had, by now, sucked Newport in to the arm wrestle that they had threatened. The heavy forwards constantly bumped the ball up around the fringes of the last ruck leaving the backs as interested spectators for long periods. It took until the 29th minute for the Bargoed backs to do much other than defend. Centre Darren Humphries was through a gap in midfield and beckoned wing Ashley Norton on to a switch pass. However, Norton’s inactivity betrayed him when he failed to take the simple pass which was likely to have led to a try. However, Norton had warmed up a bit now and skilfully retrieved a high kick ahead before passing to outside half Julian Mogg. Julian spent a couple of seasons with the Black and Ambers before leaving for Swansea in the summer. Interestingly, he has already faced Newport once this season as full back for the Whites at St Helens. Mogg made ground down the right wing before the forwards made this their own territory. A couple of drives at the Newport line and, with an air of inevitability, flanker Lewis Weyman opened Bargoed’s account with a try in the corner. Full back James Hallet kicked the conversion to make it Bargoed 7 Newport 3 on 36 minutes.
Newport were beginning to look ragged and inaccurate. Their shape was starting to go so it was with some relief that Mr Morris blew the whistle for halftime so that Craig Warlow and Tyrone Morris could get the boys back in the changing room and attempt to iron out the issues that had arisen during the first half.
Halftime – Bargoed RFC 7 Newport RFC 3
Julian Mogg kicked off the second half of the game and soon Newport looked revitalised, once a scare from Bargoed wing David Evans had been dealt with by Jon Morris. Newport stretched their legs and a fortunate slap down saw the ball land in the hands of Elliot Frewen. He charged fifteen metres before finding Jon Morris who cut an angle toward the sticks and got as far as the Bargoed 22 metre line before the ball was stripped away from him. Bargoed cleared the ball but only as far as Llywarch ap Myrddin who runs a similar path to Jon Morris but got even closer. Ap Myrddin evaded a tackle from wing David Evans but was snagged by Ashley Norton. ‘Larry’ still had possession and managed to pop a super pass off the floor into the path of Newport scrum half Owen Davies but the pass somehow didn’t find its target and the effort went unrewarded.
Frustration crept in for the Newport side amid a flurry of fists between Rhodri Jones and Bargoed prop Rhys Morgan during the 51st minute. Mr Morris decided, with the help of an assistant, that Jones was the guiltier of the two and needed ten minutes on the naughty step. The ensuing Bargoed possession was bashed away at the Newport defence until they let Newport off the hook by going off their feet at a ruck. Matt O’Brien thought quickly and took the penalty before cross-kicking the ball to Jon Morris. Morris skipped around the closing Bargoed defence and managed to work the ball away to safety.
A loose ball in midfield could have amounted to a Newport score with a kinder bounce. Elliot Frewen got boot to ball first and chased ahead, Haydn Palmer beat him to it and hacked forward again. By now the ball was bobbling dangerously for Bargoed around the five metre line. Matt O’Brien, fearing that trying to pick it up would simply cause him to knock on, tapped it forward over the try line but the ball turned harmlessly and went dead.
The numbers were evened out on the 58th minute when Mr Morris grew tired of Bargoed’s Adam Coupe infringing. Matt O’Brien kicked the penalty to make it Bargoed 7 Newport 6 on 58 minutes.
Bargoed were ill-disciplined at the ruck in the 64th minute and Newport were awarded another penalty which O’Brien scored to make it Bargoed 7 Newport 9.
With Rhodri Jones back on the field, surely Newport would hunt down the natural overlap that would occur? Matt O’Brien was kicking for position about thirty metres from his line when his kick was charged down, Bargoed’s James Locke grabbed the ball and made some ground before passing to wing David Evans to skate over for their second try in the corner. James Hallett missed the conversion so the scoreboard read Bargoed 12 Newport 9 on 67 minutes.
Newport fought back as Elliot Frewen made a run along his wing and chipped ahead forcing Bargoed to usher the ball into touch just millimetres out from the Bargoed line. The line out was executed well, as they generally had all afternoon, and replacement scrum half Ryan James went close but the resulting ruck saw the ball knocked on.
Bargoed got their winning score on 76 minutes through more Newport inaccuracy. A home scrum simply obliterated Newport’s pack but, somehow, Rhys Jenkins managed to spirit the ball away and Frewen set up the ruck. The passing across the field was shockingly loose and when it eventually went to ground Bargoed simply scooped it up, passed to wing David Evans again and he rounded off a decent afternoon’s work for himself. The conversion was missed again so the score was Bargoed 17 Newport 9.
Newport tried to give themselves a lifeline when they attacked in the 79th minute. A penalty had been conceded when a defender pulled a Black and Amber player’s shirt to prevent him running in support. O’Brien kicked for the 22 metre line. The maul was sound from the line out but, once the ball was released, the rush to get the ball out to the wings simply made it easy for Bargoed to defend against and Elliot Frewen was barged into touch without the defending centres having to make a tackle.
Newport persistence paid off when Matt O’Brien put Rhodri Jones into a gap and he used his long stride to take him under the posts for Newport’s only try of the afternoon. O’Brien nailed the simple conversion to make it Bargoed 17 Newport 16 on 80+2 minutes.
Then Mr Morris allowed the restart to be taken. This was salvageable! Sadly for Newport it was more like the closing scenes of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the protagonists tried to blast their way out of the fort only to be met with the might of the Mexican army. Inaccuracy dogged Newport all afternoon and it didn’t relent when they were after a score, any score, to win a game of rugby. Mr Morris had seen enough and blew for full time ensuring that Bargoed won only their third Principality Premiership game all season. The home support were jubilant and Bargoed’s coach, long-time Newport RFC servant Sven Cronk, even allowed a wry smile to cross his lips in celebration.
This game really was a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ for Newport. The dazzling, all-out-attack shown against RGC1404 on Monday was entirely absent. It’s probably best just to chalk this game off to experience and get on with trying to win Tier 2 of the Premiership, the Foster’s Cup and the SWALEC Cup. Indeed, Newport RFC’s next fixture is in the aforementioned Foster’s Cup, at Rodney Parade on Wednesday 18th January when we entertain Bedwas RFC. Kick-off is at 7.15pm. Newport have an excellent chance of qualifying for the knock out stages of this competition so come to the game, bring your mates and support your team!
Come on ‘the ‘Port! #cotp
Man Of The Match – Jon Morris
FINAL SCORE _ Bargoed RFC 17 Newport RFC 16