Bedwas RFC vs Newport RFC – 1st May 2018 by John Evans
It was back to earth with a bump for the Black and Ambers in this rearranged Principality Premiership fixture. After sampling the grandeur of the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Sunday, despite the humbling result, it was the more prosaic delights of the Bridge Field in Bedwas that awaited this Newport team. The Newport coaches rotated the squad again but, to the player’s credit, eleven of the Cup Final squad held up their hands and were selected for this fixture.
One could be forgiven for thinking that the seasons have completely lost the plot; what began as a beautiful spring morning ended in steady autumnal rain with chilling winds which had supporters reaching for their woolly hats or turning up their collars. Whatever, the conditions were the same for both teams, whether it was an open field next to a river in Bedwas or the homogenised atmosphere in a roof-closed enormodome in Cardiff.
The Bedwas outside half, Joe Scrivens, kicked off as Newport attacked the clubhouse end. The Black and Ambers first action was to knock the kick on. The ball spun out to centre Adam Williams, whose arcing run in front of the stand was met with minimal resistance as he cantered over for a try. Centre Steffan Jones nailed the conversion before the first minute of playing time had elapsed. While this was going on, debutant full back Cyle Powell was led from the field with an injury which saw him temporarily replaced by Chay Smith.
Smith soon made an impression on the game after Newport had knocked on from a line out. Bedwas drove at the Black and Ambers but the ball squeezed from the grasp of the black and white-jerseyed ball carrier. Joe Bartlett, showing good awareness, scooped up the ball and set off for the line. Chay Smith, following up on the left wing, called for the ball which duly arrived as he hared off for the corner, outstripping the corner-flagging Bedwas no.8 Andrew Waite in the process. Matt O’Brien added the conversion to level the scores at seven points apiece with four minutes played.
Newport began to show flashes of the style of play that has served them so well this season. Neat interpassing between Ryan James and Kyle Tayler saw Newport moving forward but a knock-on halted that move. Bedwas accrued enough advantage before a clearing kick was charged down by Newport’s Chris Williams at no.8. Williams seized the rolling ball but his popped pass went to Bedwas hands and they hastily booted the ball away to clear their lines.
The visitors were gaining momentum as the ball worked its way across the line. Runners were coming into the line at angles but the referee, Mr Gwyn Morris, spotted a high tackle on Matt O’Brien so awarded Newport the penalty with O’Brien himself slotted comfortably. It was now Bedwas 7 Newport 10.
Newport were on the front-foot again minutes later. Joe Bartlett won a line out which Ryan James moved wide. Haydn Palmer set up a ruck in midfield before the ball went back left. Matt O’Brien brought in hooker Evan Whitson on a tidy angle who burst through to reach the five metre line. Bedwas managed to hold firm but Mr Morris had spotted another high tackle, on O’Brien again, and played advantage. Ryan James tried his luck with a side-footed kick behind the Bedwas defence but it was to no avail. Mr Morris had no trouble with going back for the penalty offence which Matt O’Brien again kicked to bring the score to Bedwas 7 Newport 13 on sixteen minutes.
A Newport scrum in difficulty on halfway doesn’t seem the most likely scenario for a try but that is what followed. Ryan James rescued the ball from the base of the scrum, sized up his options before selecting something from the draw marked “miracles”. His underarm reverse pass was a thing of wonder as it reached Harri Lang on the Newport wing like a bullet. Lang, no slouch for pace, stood up his opposite number, lit the afterburners and ran, crossing the try line with barely a hand laid on him. Matt O’Brien added the two-pointer to make the score Bedwas 7 Newport 20 on 21 minutes.
Bedwas responded to the exhortations of Coach Ian Gardner in the stand. They kept ball neatly while thumping away at the Black and Amber defence. Joe Scrivens and Steffan Jones were comfortable with switching positions between 10 and 13 where needed, but, in a replica of his first try, it was centre Adam Williams who breezed through some disappointingly limp tackling to waltz over and dot down the ball. Steffan Jones added the extras to bring the score to Bedwas 14 Newport 20 on 24 minutes.
Newport conceded a penalty for crossing which also saw the recently returned Cyle Powell in the wars again. Bedwas booted the penalty to around the eighteen metre mark. The pass from scrum half Luke Crane to his wing Matthew John was forward so Newport had the opportunity to counter-attack. Sadly an unsympathetic pass arrived at Haydn Palmer’s ankle height. Bedwas hacked the loose ball forward, the oval ball doing its thing as the bounce eluded Adam Sabri. Bedwas threatened but a grubber kick put in by Joe Scrivens was effectively mopped up by Joe Bartlett and Ryan James had time to kick the ball into touch.
Haydn Palmer made a 33rd minute half break with Rhys Jenkins in support but the pass to Jenkins was dropped and Bedwas scavenged possession. The ball moved around comfortably before wing Matthew John took a great angle and cut into the heart of Newport territory. He retrieved his own chip kick ahead as the Newport defence were largely drawn towards him. The ball quickly moved right to second row Adam Dove who jogged in a try with unmarked support runners beyond him. The conversion was missed so the score now was Bedwas 19 Newport 20.
Unusually these days there was absolutely no added time played and Mr Morris blew the whistle after exactly forty minutes of end to end rugby in slowly worsening conditions.
Halftime – Bedwas RFC 19 Newport RFC 20
Simon Veall came on for Matt O’Brien at half time and it was he who kicked off the second half with Newport now defending the clubhouse end.
Bedwas were soon going close to scoring after Newport’s Garin Harris lost the ball in contact. Steffan Jones at centre was pulling the strings for Bedwas as super hands from prop Brynley Toms set scrum half Luke Crane on a run but his pass to wing Matthew John was forward within Newport’s 22 metre area.
Garin Harris made some amends for his spill by securing loose ball at a ruck and handing it on to Simon Veall. Haydn Palmer found gaps in the Bedwas defence before being hauled down. Adam Sabri arrived first and took the shortest route to the try line before being knocked down himself. Newport battled on and it was Adam Sabri who drew a penalty award when his kick and chase for the line prompted Bedwas hooker Alun Rees to tug at his jersey. Mr Morris spoke with Rees but declined to show him a card. Newport opted to go to the corner. James Little won the line out allowing Evan Whitson to lower his head and barge at the line. Whitson was held up but the ball worked left to replacement scrum half Tom Lucas who, showing physicality more in line with a big centre, bustled his way through a cluster of Bedwas jerseys to claim a try for Newport. The conversion was missed, so the score now was Bedwas 19 Newport 25.
Newport conceded a scrum penalty, something of an Achilles heel for the team this season, on 55 minutes. Bedwas’ replacement scrum half Tom Rowlands took the tap quickly and sprinted beyond Newport’s 40 metre line and into the 22 where he invited a penalty of his own. Bedwas kicked to the corner and it was from a powerful rolling maul that second row Geraint Edmunds scored a try to keep his side in the game and secure their try-scoring bonus point. The conversion went across the face of the posts to make it Bedwas 24 Newport 25.
Bedwas gave a penalty away on the hour for a no-arms tackle. Simon Veall kicked to the corner. Joe Bartlett took the throw but the Bedwas pack soon bound in on him under his shoulders, not allowing Bartlett to set up a maul. Bartlett tried to free the ball up, fresh hooker Henry Palmer being the recipient. Palmer drove for a score only for Mr Morris to call a knock-on and Bedwas were off the hook.
The hosts seized on a 63rd minute loose ball with vigour, Tom Devine picking a good line and carrying the ball between the forty metre lines. A kick ahead saw Harri Lang scamper back and make the defensive touch down with two attackers bearing down on him. The new Newport front row of Lavender, Henry Palmer and Piper locked out and denied their opponents the slight advantage that they had been enjoying. Eventually the ball fell loose from Bedwas hands. Joe Bartlett was working like a back row forward as he secured the ball and Simon Veall cleared it to 35 metres.
An enormous, searching kick by Simon Veall landed in the Bedwas 22 between full back Aaron Bramwell and wing Ryan Davies, forcing them to play the ball. The kick infield was caught and replacement back-row Dudley Stead carried well to set up a ruck. Tom Lucas probed for an opening before putting a chip-kick in for Harri Lang to pursue. Lang pressurised the Bedwas defenders but the Assistant Referee intervened, having spotted an infringement. Mr Morris awarded Newport a full penalty which Simon Veall easily slotted from forty metres with little run up. Indeed, the ball appeared to be still climbing as it went over the crossbar. The score now was Bedwas 24 Newport 28 with 70 minutes played.
A 76th minute penalty saw Bedwas nurse the touchlines in a late attempt to get upfield for a winning score. Joe Bartlett was found guilty of hauling the maul down conceding another penalty which Bedwas kicked right up to the Newport five metre line. The maul set but excellent work saw the Black and Ambers disrupt the maul while an unseen hand kept the ball off the ground to earn Newport the turnover. The scrum was secure and Tom Lucas at scrum half cleared the ball. Good handling from Dudley Stead secured possession as Newport moved away from danger but a needless penalty conceded on halfway undid all that good work. Steffan Jones dumped Newport back to the exact spot that they had worked so hard to clear but Bedwas managed to spill the ball from the maul.
Misfortune awaited, however. Bedwas kept looking for an opening and one was gifted to them with two minutes of added time played. Mr Morris appeared to have deemed two support runners going across the face of the ball carrier and between defenders perfectly legal creating a yawning chasm on their right and it was openside flanker James Richards who was doubtless delighted to grab the try for his team. The conversion was missed leaving the score at Bedwas 29 Newport 28.
There was just about time to restart but the tackles were raining in from the black and white shirts as they ensured that Newport had no time to settle on the ball and do any more damage. Mr Morris blew for time on what had been an anti-climactic end for Newport supporters.
It would be remiss of our club not to thank the players and clubs who appeared for the Black and Ambers on permit. Thank you to Caerleon RFC, Caerphilly RFC, Glamorgan Wanderers RFC, Newbridge RFC, Newport HSOB RFC, Trebanos RFC and Ystradgynlais RFC for their assistance, it was much appreciated.
Newport RFC are back in Principality Premiership league action on Saturday May 5th when our nearest neighbours from Cross Keys RFC pay us a visit. Games against Keys are always action and incident packed! It’s the last Saturday home game for the club for this season too, so come and get your fix of Rodney Parade rugby before the end of the season. Following that is another home fixture against Pontypridd RFC on Tuesday May 8th and, finally, a road trip to north Wales, Colwyn Bay to be precise, as Newport RFC face RGC 1404 at Stadiwm Zip World. If half of the magnificent support that came to Cardiff to watch the cup final came to the next two home games then we could create a fantastic atmosphere at Rodney Parade. Don’t forget that the club can still finish in the top five in the league. That would be an incredible achievement after the trials and tribulations of the last year.
Onwards and upwards, Newport, onwards and upwards.
Come on Newport! #cotp
Newport Man Of The Match – Joe Bartlett
FINAL SCORE _ Bedwas RFC 29 Newport RFC 28