Rugby has returned! Another long summer break is over and the B&As were back in action after a hard pre-season of training over the last few weeks with many physical challenges, including the infamous sand dunes at Merthyr Mawr!
Having originally been scheduled to play local side Hartridge, this friendly against Risca was quickly arranged less than a week ago and the squad had to prepare to face a side who were playing a division higher than the Stags last season.
Nevertheless, this was a much welcomed encounter. The ‘Cuckoos’ gave us a great welcome to Stores Field last season to begin our pre-season campaign and did the same again this afternoon. But after the disappointment of the Cup final and a poor run of results to finish the last campaign, the B&As meant business.
It took them less than 5 minutes to open the scoring when Jon Morris smashed through the fragile defence to put in newcomer, and man of the match, Matthew Reed, for his first of three tries. Risca then had a few opportunities to reply with a good spell of possession and were close to going over in the corner. However the Newport wall stopped them short.
Then the Black and Ambers made them pay. Their physicality proved too much and they were soon four tries up with little over 20 minutes played. Reed smashed through the defence to get his second and Jon Morris quickly added two himself.
The home side were guilty of falling asleep at times and again, Newport made them pay. Two quick taps led to two more tries courtesy of Elliot Frewen and Phil Pariyo, on permit from Glamorgan Wanderers.
Another player on permit for the afternoon was Ethan Smith, brother of Chay. The youngster from Cardiff Met had an outstanding game and earned a try of his own, successfully taking on a defender with a chip and run, and one or two lucky bounces!
The Cuckoos then enjoyed a decent spell of possession for a short while, but the B&As restricted them to their own 22, and just before half-time, an eighth try came thanks to Jon Morris, who also racked up a hat-trick for himself. Haydn Simons slotted over 2 conversions to give his side a comfortable lead going into the break.
HALF-TIME: RISCA 0-44 NEWPORT
Head coach, Craig Warlow, made a couple of changes at half-time. One of which was potentially the signing of last season, Morgan Burgess, and with his first touch of the afternoon, he was given the freedom of Risca by Simons to run under the sticks and continue the onslaught.
More tries were scored courtesy of Adam Sabri (2), Henry Palmer and Matthew Reed who completed his hat-trick early in the second half. With a compulsory drinks break at the 60-minute mark (due to the warm weather) and the B&As already 75 points to the good, there were doubts whether or not this game would continue. But captain Joe Bartlett and his opposite number agreed with the referee to see this one until the end.
Soon after the restart, Frewen reminded us of what he’s capable of doing as he danced through the Risca defence and grabbing another for himself. Soon after that, what one Smith did, the other had to do too! Chay Smith came off the bench to match his brother’s effort in the first half.
With less than ten minutes left on the clock and both teams still determined to go the distance, Frewen secured another hat-trick for the team, finding ever-growing gaps in the defence and racing over to score.
And with two minutes to go, Phil Pariyo got his second of the afternoon and Newport’s seventeenth to secure a triple figure score for only the third time in the club’s history, although all in non-official matches. Simons, who had a nightmare with the boot in the first half, managed to convert all of the B&As’ last six tries, nine overall, to give him a personal tally of 18 points.
There was no doubt Risca had given their all this afternoon, and they were duly rewarded in the final minute of injury time with a try of their own. Their scrum-half forced himself over through the defence and over the line with the last act of the match.
FINAL SCORE: Risca 5-103 B&As
We thank Risca RFC for their warm reception today and wish them the best of luck for their season in 1 East. But that won’t be our only visit to Stores Field this month. We’ll head back there to face our Premiership rivals, Swansea, on Thursday 23 August in our final friendly before we open our league campaign.
Before that, trips to Rosslyn Park and Newbridge await, with the former happening next Saturday (11 August) at Priory Lane in Roehampton, London. The ‘Park’ still have former captain, Adam Frampton, in their side and will be looking to improve on their 12th placed finish in England’s National League 1 last season. See you there!
SEREN Y GÊM: Matthew Reed
Ron Sutcliffe match pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147517109@N03/sets/72157699838211465/
Simon Latham match pictures: https://simonlatham.smugmug.com/Premiership-Rugby/Season-2018-19/18-08-04-Risca-v-Newport-Pre-Season-Friendly/