A beautiful, warm spring afternoon allowed supporters to sit in the stand at the grandly titled Centre of Sporting Excellence in Ystrad Mynach in their shirt sleeves for this Tier Two Principality Premiership fixture. A win for the Black and Ambers would secure a play-off berth in May, so the motivation to win some silverware this season was still present. Newport’s last venture into Bargoed’s back yard ended in defeat as a rusty team contrived to do most of the basics poorly and Bargoed took full advantage. Newport couldn’t afford to be as slack again on this occasion.
Captain Adam Brown led Newport RFC out onto the 3G surface at the neat little stadium and was straight into action as Bargoed’s Calum Jones’ kick-off went directly to him. Brown barged up to the ten metre line, as Newport played right to left in front of the main stand, and set up the ball for Ryan James to box kick up field. Bargoed cleaned up the ball clumsily but legally, however, a blue-shirted defender, too eager to retrieve the ball, dived off his feet at the ruck and conceded a first minute penalty. Arwel Robson stepped forward and slotted the three-pointer making it Bargoed 0 Newport 3.
Bargoed replied with a surge by wing Duane Dyer who found centre Darren Humphries on his left before he was hauled down by the Newport defence. Bargoed then undid their good work by knocking the ball forward and then being penalised during the resulting Newport scrum. The scrummage proved to be a happy hunting ground for Newport all afternoon as the front row of Nicky Boyce, Will Evans and Garin Harris dominated their opposition for much of their shift and then, similarly, a front row change on 63 minutes with Matt Prosser, Henry Palmer and Tom Piper coming in, seemed to have few worries in that department.
As the first half progressed, it become noticeable that there was absolutely no width to the game at all. The action was taking place in the middle channel of the field as Bargoed persisted with their game plan of having a big forward bump it up around the fringes or to have centres Humphries or Ashley Norton biff through the middle of the field. For a bit of variety they sometimes brought in fullback Matthew Lewis on the crash ball. You could almost feel your blood slowing in your veins as you watched. However, to Bargoed’s credit, they kept the ball very well, denied Newport possession for long stretches and, when Newport did get a sniff of the ball, didn’t allow the Black and Ambers to do much with it.
Bargoed second row Bryce Morgan, formerly of Newport RFC, was showing up well in attack, bashing and crashing his way forward, one drive got to within metres of the try line before scrum half Matthew Bancroft knocked on in his haste to get the ball away. Newport were struggling to deal with Bargoed’s physicality up front at times and the hosts nearly bagged a try on the 20th minute when Bryce Morgan patted a lineout ball back to busy hooker Leigh Meades who surged to the line only to be hauled down short. Newport cleared the ball away just to their 22 metre line. The Bargoed throw-in at the lineout was judged to be straight and, for once, the crash ball worked as Darren Humphries got past the midfield bulwarks of Toms Riley and Pascoe and found himself in open space. However, Humphries, like a rabbit in headlights, failed to pass to any of his supporting runners and the chance was stopped in its tracks. The referee, Mr Gareth John, spotted Arwel Robson not releasing the player in the tackle, reached for his yellow card and invited Robson onto the naughty step.
Bryce Morgan was again carrying the ball for all he was worth but the Newport defence was impressively firm. Eventually, when Bargoed prop Rhys Morgan received the ball he also received three Newport forwards who picked him up and manoeuvred him over the try line to concede the five metre scrum. When your pack are confident, you can do things like that. And so it proved. Newport flanker Kyle Tayler made a nuisance of himself at the base of the Bargoed scrum, and, once the scrum had dissolved into a ruck, the ball was completely unprotected allowing Rhodri Jones to scoop the ball up and claim possession. Newport were awarded a penalty allowing them to clear their lines and move away from danger.
Finally, it took until the 33rd minute for Newport to earn some quality ball to play rugby with. Tom Riley carried up to the Bargoed 22 metre line and set up a ruck, Ryan James ran across field inviting players to bisect his running line before releasing Tom Pascoe to try to squeeze through the narrowest of gaps. James then found Llywarch ap Myrrdin sprinting on to the ball. He saw enough of a gap to get to the try line but was draped with two blue defenders. Mr John ruled that the ball was held up, no try, attacking scrum. The scrum was a bit of a shambles as the ball was won easily enough but Bargoed were allowed to disrupt Rhys Jenkins’ pick up. A boot went onto the ball and Bargoed’s Darren Humphries claimed it, sprinting up to halfway before Tom Riley snared him and stopped the breakout stone dead. Bargoed conceded another penalty. The reinstated Arwel Robson booted Newport to the 22 metre line again. The line out was won and Newport copied Bargoed’s trick of passing the ball to hooker Will Evans to sprint home for the try. Sadly Mr John disagreed as he had spotted a lineout infringement and awarded the home team a free kick.
Bargoed’s Calum Jones had a shot at goal in the 39th minute after Newport were caught offside but his kick drifted harmlessly left of the posts.
Arwel Robson put Newport just twenty metres out with a super kick in injury time. Bargoed hooker Meades threw the ball too long for his jumpers allowing Kyle Tayler to snaffle the ball, Nicky Boyce had a surge for the line but the pass away from the ruck went to ground and Bargoed could push out. They kicked long for Llywarch ap Myrrdin to run back, which he did very well, and got to the Bargoed ten metre line before Mr John penalised Newport for crossing. What happened next will remain a mystery as a large philosophical discussion took place involving the more cultured players on the field. It seemed to get particularly heated when somebody seemed to suggest that they weren’t that keen on Vermeer’s use of light in his paintings and his brush strokes were too broad. Rhodri Jones clearly took exception to this slur of one of the Dutch Masters and let Bargoed’s Darren Humphries know about it. Mr John, once he had consulted with both of his Assistants, decided to show Jones the yellow card. Quite how three referees could see one player throwing punches but not see him being punched back was quite puzzling.
After a half of rugby lasting nearly fifty one minutes, that was quite enough excitement for now.
Halftime – Bargoed RFC 0 Newport RFC 3
Bargoed started the half patiently. They received Arwel Robson’s restart and slowly clawed their way forward. Eventually they had covered around seventy metres before threatening the Newport line. Bashes from Ross Coombs, also formerly of Newport RFC, Bryce Morgan and flanker Louis Blacker drove them close but a pass to second row Josh Jacas, son of Tredegar RFC legend Frank, saw him chopped down and pick up a leg injury which ended his participation in the game. Bargoed were awarded a penalty some eighteen metres out which full back Matthew Lewis slotted comfortably to make the score Bargoed 3 Newport.
Newport, inexplicably, were caught at sixes and sevens in defence as Bargoed’s James Locke and Keiron Brown were afforded space to run half the length of the field before Newport were penalised again. Matthew Lewis kicked the points to make it Bargoed 6 Newport 3.
Newport were back on the front foot in the 52nd minute when Jon Morris was finally released. An arcing run across the face of the Bargoed defence brought ap Myrrdin and Elliot Frewen in support, Frewen eventually being held up just two metres short. Sadly Newport were over-eager in supporting Frewen and conceded another penalty. A measure of Frewen’s worth to the squad came in the 54th minute when he sprinted after Ryan James’ kick and was visibly gaining on the retreating defenders, so much so that he forced scrum half Matthew Bancroft to carry the ball behind his own try line and ground it. Knowing the Newport scrum were in the ascendency, this was a gilt-edged opportunity. The first scrum whipped around to the right and was reset. The second scrum wouldn’t settle and was again reset. The third scrum saw home prop Rhys Morgan fold in and was penalised. Adam Brown opted to scrum again and when this scrum wheeled right again Mr John had little option but to award Newport the penalty try. Arwel Robson added the simplest of conversions to make the score Bargoed 6 Newport 10.
Bargoed weren’t finished and a series of drives towards the Newport line paid dividends. A super reverse pass from Lewys Lippiett put Ross Coombs in position to drive at Newport and, once the ruck was set up, Lewis Bowden simply had to gather the ball and pick his spot to fall over the Newport try line. The conversion was missed making the score Bargoed 11 Newport 10 on 67 minutes.
Newport changed Ryan James at scrum half for Owen Leonard who had an immediate impact to taking a quick tapped penalty and making fully 25 metres before the backs were released. The play switched to the right flank and was halted on the 22 metre line. Bargoed tackler David Evans couldn’t resist coming away from the back of the tackle situation and giving the ball a little dink as he went past. Penalty. Matt O’Brien had the opportunity to put Newport ahead in the 73rd minute but the kick passed the outside of the left hand upright. O’Brien gathered Bargoed’s restart and tried and impromptu drop goal from forty metres out that was accurate but dipped below the crossbar.
The hefty Bargoed forwards had visibly tired and their backs were looking for unfamiliar ways to get themselves up field. The gaps were appearing and one could sense that it may be calamitous for Bargoed RFC. It took Llywarch ap Myrrdin’s 79th minute scorching run, following a hearty line break by Tom Riley to ease Newport’s fears as he sprinted away from the Bargoed cover and crossed the line for the match winner. O’Brien’s conversion was wide so the score was now Bargoed 11 Newport 15.
There was plenty of time for Newport to try to extend the scoring. Tom Riley mesmerised the Bargoed defence with some one-handed handling to release Tom Pascoe who, in turn, found Jon Morris but the Bargoed defence had it covered. Newport gave ground away deep into injury time when a scrum put in evaded Henry Palmer and the ball was slapped back into the scrum, Neil Back-style, which an Assistant Referee picked up on. Rhodri Jones covered it when he towered in the line out to retrieve the ball for Newport.
The half ended with Newport defending high up the field giving a one hundred percent effort to earn the win and preserve their five games, five wins ratio since the league split in January.
Newport’s next Principality Premiership league fixture is next Saturday, 29th April, when we face the run-from-all-angles challenge of Llanelli RFC at Rodney Parade. Visits by our friends from the west are usually entertaining affairs so come along, bring your mates and shout on the Black and Ambers! Hey, we can still win a trophy this season!
Come on ‘the ‘Port! #cotp
Man Of The Match – Rhys Jenkins
FINAL SCORE _ Bargoed RFC 11 Newport RFC 15