On a beautiful calm evening at Rodney Parade the off the field issues were briefly ignored to celebrate two of the long serving stalwarts of the Newport & District rugby organisation in this match between the hosts Newport RFC and a District XV made up of players from the local Newport and surrounding area teams.
Newport played in red as the district wore the traditional ‘town’ colours of black and amber. The district kicked off and Newport showed intent from the off moving the ball wide and quickly from one side of the field to the other and back before Haydn Palmer and Geraint O’Driscoll combined to put Jon Morris in for the first try of the night on his 50th appearance or the club. Arwel Robson kicked the conversion. Ryan Bates starting at scrum half was a very prominent presence from the start looking extremely sharp and getting his side moving into space and with pace. A Rhodri Jones break, juggled by Evan Whitson soon led to a second try as Newbridge’s Mike Powell went over for the home team.
A fumble from the restart enabled the District to make their first solid attack but they were bundled into touch. Bates was to the fore again linking with Dan Partridge (another joining the 50 not out club) before play stopped just short of the try line. Palmer was held up just short before the ball was moved to Rhodri Jones for another score converted by Robson. It was 19-0 at this point. Newport could sense their dominance and were running from everywhere. The impressive Nathan Hudd was never far from the action and was involved in another try by Morris converted successfully by Robson.
The District got into a promising position with a line out but were penalised for holding on. Powell and Partridge then combined to set Bates free for a score that Robson again converted. 33-0. From a scrum on halfway the ball was quickly moved left and Palmer breezed over for another successful score and Robson was banging over conversions for fun. Dan Mock got into the action with a huge mazy run that deserved a score but the ball went forward in a desperate tackle. At the scrums the District were just about holding parity but were often penalised in the tackle area for holding on as Newport’s back row scrapped for the ball. From a close in line out Keagan Bale went over for a score to leave the hosts 45-0 to the good.
A super break from District outside half Josh Griffish was the highlight of the District first half but he wasn’t quite able to evade the last defender and ended up being ushered into touch. Sion O’Brien, on as a replacement for Newport, was quickly into the action sprinting half the length of the filed for a fine individual score. Robson once again converting. The robust Wes Cunliffe was proving difficult to stop and in a typically abrasive charge he was able to release replacement fullback Haydn Simmonds of Croesyceiliog RFC for a try. Robson converted once more and the ref blew for half time after 31 minutes.
Half Time: Newport RFC 59 - 0 Newport and District.
A very quick turnaround saw the second half begin and Newport emptied their bench all but. Cunliffe continued where he had left off bumping off would be tacklers for another try. Simmonds took over the kicking duties but hit the upright from far out on the left. Partridge rampaged up the field with good support from props Bale and Prosser but the move was stopped inches short of the line. Robson was quick to react at the restart and jinked his way over. Simmonds converted and did so again within minutes as Palmer weaved his way down field for another superb individual score.
In the only worrying moment of the night, Wales U20 fly half Arwel Robson hobbled off but whilst down to 14 men Bates made another telling quick break releasing Mike Powell for a fine try converted by Simmonds. Newport now led 85-0. Haydn Palmer was by now running riot every time the ball came his way. Selling more dummies than Mothercare the talented centre had the District opposition tied up in knots and afraid to tackle him. The resulting space was used well as he first put Cunliffe in for a try before intercepting another loose ball in open play. Ryan Bates had the final word though and scored with ease to nail a deserved man of the match performance from the newly signed scrum half from Croesyceiliog.
The ref drew a close to proceedings with Newport in a 99-0 lead but tonight was not just about the game but more to celebrate the 100 years of service to Newport and District rugby that between them Herbie Jones of Caldicot RFC and Tommy Mulcahy of Whiteheads RFC have contributed. Both received very warm appreciation after the game when presentations were made to them in the Rodney Hall. Newport RFC thank the players and officials of the District team for joining with them at Rodney Parade and wish all local teams in the Newport area the very best of luck in the rest of the 2016/17 Season.
Full Time: Newport RFC 99 - 0 Newport and District.
Newport RFC Man of the Match: Ryan Bates