Llandovery RFC v Newport RFC 2nd November 2019 by John Evans
Newport returned to Indigo Group Premiership action on the back of three straight losses with a visit to Llandovery RFC. Church Bank is no longer the place that you would think of first to break that deadlock; they are a strong team nowadays and usually get the results that they want on their own patch.
Injuries continue to play a role in Ty Morris’ team selections. With Henry Palmer going crook on the day, Newport were left to field, effectively, their fifth choice hooker in Brodie Coghlan, a young man from the Newport HSOB stable. Josh Skinner started the game in the second row while Elliot Frewen continued at fullback. Newport supporters were heartened, however, by the sight of Johnny Morris returning to wing duties following his recovery from a rib injury.
The rain. God, the rain. It was incessant. Derek Brockway had made his weather forecast on Friday evening on BBC Wales telling us about ‘yellow warnings’ for travel, high winds and lashing rain. He wasn’t far wrong either, although the wind never seemed to reach the magnitudes promised. The wind howled through the vents on the supporter’s bus as it negotiated the exposed stretches of the A470 around Storey Arms but the rain. Just. Poured. Conditions were similar in Llandovery but all were heartened to see the protective pads around the posts. We had some rugby to watch. It would be interesting to see which team would manage the conditions best.
Matt O’Brien kicked off with Newport playing towards the clubhouse. The Drovers returned the kick, Elliot Frewen lofted a high one forward but Llandovery’s Jack Maynard, their outside half, called for a ‘mark’. Newport endeavoured to carry the ball at their opponents, Garin Price and Tom Piper making charges at the red and white shirted home defence but conditions were exceedingly greasy and, naturally, mistakes happened on both sides.
The Black and Amber pack made short work of a 6th minute Drovers rolling maul when they managed to split the maul in two and expose the ball carrier. Geraint Watkin ripped the ball clear and passed out to Johnny Morris who carried aggressively along his wing. Llandovery were penalised for failing to roll away from the tackle leaving Matt O’Brien to kick for goal. The attempt was sound and the scoring opened as Newport lead Llandovery 0-3 on nine minutes.
Jack Maynard restarted for the Drovers to Elliot Frewen who, typically, looked to run. He sliced his way through the defence and had the luxury of two support runners in Josh Skinner and James McCarthy. Frewen selected Skinner, on his right, who punted ahead and chased hard. It was a close run thing as Skinner and the home cover landed on the ball in the in-goal area. The referee, Mr Elgan Williams, awarded the try but an Assistant intervened, saying a Drovers hand had touched the ball first therefore no try.
The Drovers bashed and crashed at the stout Newport defence, players became more slippery as the rain and the sweat began to play a part. Inevitably Newport conceded a penalty as the home attack ramped up. Jack Maynard took his kick at the posts to equalise the scores, Llandovery 3 Newport 3 on 14 minutes.
Llandovery tried chipping the ball from the base of a scrum on 18 minutes as Daf Land kicked ahead for wing Morgan Williams to chase but Geraint Watkin had chased back and dealt with the immediate danger.
The Drovers kept the pressure up but a super turnover, with great credit to Brodie Coghlan, as Llandovery failed to release the ball in the tackle in the 23rd minute. The game began to settle in the middle third of the field as it became more attritional. Drovers scrum half Daf Land tried a cute pass at the hips of the retreating Josh Skinner on 29 minutes, to try to highlight that he may be offside, but Mr Williams wasn’t interested. Kyle Tayler was first on the scene to hack the loose ball ahead but the red and whites were back to cover and clear. Newport tried to reload but a pass out to Harry Griffiths in the centre left him isolated. The scenario became worse as Newport were pinged for a late tackle in an eminently kickable position. Newport supporters were slightly surprised when Jack Maynard aimed his kick at the corner. Three points on offer, in these conditions, but they want more? Arrogance or confidence? With the lineout reset, The Drovers contrived to overthrow the line as hooker Dafydd Hughes’ throw sailed clear of the line. Kyle Tayler dropped onto the ball, popped it up to Brodie Coghlan who set up a ruck for Matt O’Brien to kick the ball clear.
Minutes later and Mr Williams picked Newport up for offside. Again, Maynard kicked to the corner but the ball spiralled out around the 22 metre line on the stand side. Llandovery set up a strong rolling maul which rocked and rolled, trundling forward ominously. It came to an end, however, when Garin Price launched himself into the maul like a freshly released howitzer shell. Newport wrapped up the ball carrier and earned themselves possession back.
Matt O’Brien place an excellent kick, smack between home winger Williams and fullback Tomi Lewis, in which they had to think and communicate how to deal with the ball whilst giving Newport’s Morris, McCarthy and Frewen a few extra seconds to zero in on them. The defenders dealt with the threat well but the kick just returned to Matt O’Brien. A flash of the hands and a drop of the shoulder and O’Brien sprinted away before angling a kick to the touchline for Johnny Morris to hunt down. Jack Maynard, the Drovers ’10’ was there first, just about, and knocked the ball into touch. Newport were in a super position to punch at the Drovers line. Rhys Jenkins, Tom Piper and Garin Price had drives as the ball spread across the field. There was a moment of comedy gold too as big Drovers second row Joe Powell tackled Mr Williams, both arms, full hit to the ground, presumably confusing his yellow shirt with the Black and Amber of his adversaries. Eventually, a gap opened up for Geraint O’Driscoll to scramble through and try to ground the ball. Mr Williams seemed unsure and sought advice. Needless to say, it was a big “no” from the Assistant. The ball had been lost, apparently, and it was a defensive scrum five. Mr Williams then gave the home side a penalty from the scrum after which the half bimbled to a conclusion.
Half Time Llandovery RFC 3 Newport RFC 3
The Drovers’ Maynard restarted and Llandovery managed to regain possession. They went through the phases to build a steady attack but the vigorous Newport defence was unrelenting. Maynard was forced to chip behind to try and crack Newport open but Elliot Frewen was on hand to make a ‘mark’ as he dived at the ball.
Following a penalty as Llandovery held onto a tackled player, Newport tried to press home their position. Geraint Watkin took clean ball from Joe Bartlett, stepped and sprinted away before kicking ahead. The Drovers covered but tried to play through the phases to work upfield. Newport simply resumed defensive duty much higher up the field. They eventually took the hint and looked to Maynard to ease the pressure but he simply increased it as his kick was charged down by Rhys Jenkins and went dead, ensuring the Black and Ambers an attacking scrum five. The Drovers scrum was penalised for boring-in. Brodie Coghlan took the quick tap and lunged for the line but was held up. Geraint Watkin released the ball as Llandovery crept offside. Matt O’Brien twisted and turned like a flag in the wind but with few outlets. With no advantage gained, Mr Williams took play back for the offside penalty which Matt O’Brien slotted easily to make the score Llandovery 3 Newport 6 on 48 minutes.
Llandovery took the ascendency in play as Maynard poked and prodded and effectively put his team where he wanted them. A nasty, skidding kick towards touch threatened to catch Newport out as substitute Llyr Green chased with a view to kicking the ball infield for a fellow runner to score. Thankfully for Newport, the touchline won the race and Newport could clear as their jumper was pulled down in the lineout.
James McCarthy displayed good hands in the conditions by gathering a low pass, sprinting ahead and kicking on to chase for the corner. Unfortunately for him, a sixteen man punch-up had developed in midfield. Mr Williams halted play while he tried to calm tempers. But now, notably, it was Llandovery that were making mistakes, knock-ons, conceding penalties. Newport needed to capitalise, and quickly.
Matt O’Brien took a catch deep in midfield; a nod at the already sprinting Elliot Frewen meant that the chase was on, literally. Drovers’ wing Morgan Williams spilled the ball backwards just before Frewen arrived to bother him. The result was that Llandovery squiffed the ball into touch affording Newport a half-decent platform to start from. The Towy Valley mud became increasingly sticky as Newport drove hard at Llandovery. Andrew Mann, on for Garin Price, was conspicuous in his appetite to carry the ball. A super inter-passing move between O’Brien, O’Driscoll and Morris split the home defence briefly. Newport powered forward but were left exposed as a Llandovery forward made an excellent turnover, credit where it’s due. Newport were still in ‘attack mode’ and soon invited Llandovery to stray offside. Mr Williams spotted the infringement and awarded Newport a kickable penalty from around 42 metres. Matt O’Brien swung his boot confidently as the ball spiralled through the uprights to make the score Llandovery 3 Newport 9 on 69 minutes.
The Drovers tried to create, as time was beginning to run short, but let themselves down with knock-ons. Newport eventually gave them a way in as the Black and Ambers failed to release a tackled player. Jack Maynard kicked his forwards up to the stand side 22 metre line on 73 minutes. However, their rolling maul crashed on the rocks of the Newport defence as it was held up and eventually turned over, which probably explained Kyle Tayler’s expression as he emerged from the mud. From the scrum, Geraint Watkin kicked long towards home full back Tomi Lewis. Lewis’ pass went to ground but that just invited Harry Griffiths, Kyle Tayler and Johnny Morris to get involved. Kyle Tayler hacked ahead but struggled to gather his own kick allowing Llandovery to clear.
Newport very nearly blew it with an 80th minute penalty for joining a ruck from the side. The Drovers kicked up to around 20 metres out, stand side. Newport conceded again for not releasing in the tackle so Jack Maynard aimed his kick into the corner. From the rolling maul Newport appeared to have done enough to stop play as prop Jamie Hughes appeared to have knocked on. “Not so”, said our friend the Assistant. Newport had, apparently, knocked on first. From the scrum, Drovers number 8 Richard Brooks carried at a gap which soon snapped shut on him. They built patient phases getting closer and closer as Newport supporters held their breath. The Newport defence, however, was outstanding as big man after big man was downed, face in the mud, and forced to let someone else have a go. They eventually tried to have Kristian Jones burst through to score but the pass was high and lost around his head. However, Mr Williams had spotted another penalty. Llandovery opted to scrum. Again, the red and white shirts ran at the Black and Amber, Again they received no change. They inched infield towards the posts until a forward tried to reach out and touch the ball against the base of the post protectors, spilling as he did so. Mr Williams blew for full time as the Newport players simultaneously jumped in delight at a hard-earned victory that came about on the back of terrific defence.
There were undoubtedly some sore bodies and equally sore heads as the players earned their beer at their Saturday Night Social.
Newport are next in Indigo Group Premiership action next Saturday, November 9th, when we play a re-arranged game again Bridgend RFC at Rodney Parade. Why not come along, bring your mates and support Newport RFC!
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Newport RFC Man of the Match – Brodie Coghlan
Final Score – Llandovery RFC 3 Newport RFC 9