Match Report by Steve Bennett
Despite the best efforts all week of Jupiter Pluvius the Roman god of rain this Indigo Premiership game was played on a remarkably kind surface for those who want to play an expansive game. That said he would have cursed the modern-day drainage which had thwarted his best efforts.
Newport made seven changes to the side that had beaten Carmarthen Quins comfortably two weeks ago. Our visitors had not recorded a win on the road this season and Newport had not beaten RGC in Newport since 2017 so something had to give.
All minds were focussed on next weeks supposed announcement of what clubs will constitute next seasons Elite League in the semi-pro game, but Newport who had won their last five matches with maximum points needed to refocus on the game at hand.
Saturday arrived with at times clear sky and a manageable breeze unlike the preceding week where flippers and a snorkel would have been more use, although as the afternoon progressed it grew more cloudier, and the temperature noticeably dropped by games end.
Sam Earl-Jones kicked off for the visitors who were playing towards Spytty Road with the wind in their favour. RGC quickly regained possession from the kick off and played the ball through multiple phases and after spilling the ball Newport got their hands on the ball, although the ball was sent to the wing where Lloyd Lewis fumbled. From the scrum Newport was penalised for collapsing, the subsequent line out from the kick into Newport’s 22 was knocked on.
After 5 minutes Newport collapsed another scrum in their own half and this time Sam Earl-Jones put the visitors into the lead, Newport 3-0 RGC
RGC carried on from where they had left off and dominated possession and RGC scrum half Dafydd Williams made a fine break up field which was only stopped by desperate Newport tackling.
After 6 minutes Matt O’Brien cleared with a relieving kick to touch which ignited a period of Newport pressure, after working the ball across the pitch from one side to the other Newport full back Ioan Davies spotted a gap and was nearly in at the corner but was knocked back by determined defenders.
After a period of driving mauls and sustained pressure, Newport came away with nothing.
RGC on the other hand worked their way up to the home 22 and had a scrum in front of the Newport’s posts but a well marshalled Newport defence checked anything the visitors could throw at them.
After 15 minutes Newport tried to spread the ball wide through the backline and it came to Chay Foster-Smith who threw out a long miss pass to Elliot Frewen, but an RGC centre intercepted with one hand and knocked it on, referee Adam Jones deciding it was only a knock on. Newport pushed the visitors scrum backwards and were awarded a penalty which they duly kicked to the corner and from the ensuing driving maul hooker Henry Palmer arose from a pile of bodies to claim Newport’s first try of the afternoon on 19 minutes which Matt O’Brien duly converted from out wide taking Newport into the lead Newport 7-3 RGC
Within only two minutes RGC took possession from the restart and after numerous phrases outside half Dion Jones sliced through the home defence which resembled Swiss cheese.
Sam Earl-Jones converted to restore RGC’s lead Newport 10-7 RGC
For the next ten minutes it was constant Newport forward pressure in the visitors 22, three times RGC were penalised, and each time Matt O’Brien kicked for the corner. Two of the penalties were held up on the touchline and resulted in a goal line dropout.
Finally on 26 minutes the Newport forwards drove over the visitor’s line and once again Henry Palmer came up with the ball to put Newport back in the lead, which Matt O’Brien converted. Newport 14-10 RGC
After yet more Newport pressure RGC’s number eight Sam Wiliams saw yellow and left the field.
Newport’s Ioan Davies who had been struggling after an earlier knock left the field to be replaced by Carwyn Penny.
On the half hour mark Newport broke through again and after desperate surges and back passes between forwards and backs wing Lloyd Lewis got over after his second attempt at crossing the whitewash. Matt O’Brien failed with the conversion which left the score at Newport 19-10 RGC
Newport’s scrum was now dominant pushing the visitors back at will, and from another scrum penalty Newport got to near the RGC line and after numerous phases which stretched the visitors defence from left to right, they eventually ran out of numbers and Newport wing Elliot Frewen virtually walked over the visitor’s line for the easiest of tries. Matt O’Brien converted from wide out to make it Newport 26-10 RGC.
With half time approaching Frewen nearly repeated the trick but this time desperate RGC defence thwarted his quick fire double.
Half time Newport 26-10 RGC
With a bonus point already in the bag Matt O’Brien restarted the game, and straight from the resumption of play Newport decided to spread the ball at every opportunity and give it as plenty of airtime as possible. Even the visitors entered into the spirit of things.
After 47 minutes Newport attacked down their right-hand side of the field Jonny Morris broke through the gain line, Lloyd Lewis scored his second try from a kick ahead. Matt O’Brien failed with the conversion. Newport 31-10 RGC
Four minutes later RGC wing Louis Williams was almost over in the corner but was denied by the Newport defence. This led to a passage of pressure which saw replacement Caio Parry score a try in the corner which Dion Jones converted. Newport 31-17 RGC.
Minutes a later after the ball passed through numerous pair of hands Matt O’Brien made a break which saw replacement Iestyn Galton touch down on the stand side touch line. O’Brien missed the conversion. Newport 36-17 RGC
74 minutes, constant Newport pressure saw an attempt by Carwyn Penny to kick through the visitor’s defence, the run by Penny was blocked by replacement prop Matthew Pryce who was sin binned.
Matt O’Brien sent a long diagonal kick to the opposite wing, but the ball fell into the hands of an RGC defender.
Newport were nearly in a few moments later when the ball was moved through the hands only for the ball to go astray near the corner with a certain try looking likely.
After a frantic spell by both sides which resembled a game of sevens the visitors finally put their boot to the ball and gave both sides a breather.
With the game nearing it’s conclusion a bout of passing from the backs which saw Iestyn Galton and Chay Foster-Smith create the room for Jon Morris to score a try which was converted by Matt O’Brien. Newport 43-17 RGC
Final Score Newport 43-17 RGC
Man of the Match: Luke Crane
This was Newport’s sixth consecutive win giving them the maximum thirty points out of thirty and in the process, it moves them up to second place in the Indigo Welsh Premiership.
Newport’s next games are on the road firstly at the Wern against Merthyr this coming Thursday, 15th February kick off 19:30
Secondly the black & ambers travel to Sardis Road on Thursday 29th February, kick off 19:30 to face Pontypridd.
The next home game is on Saturday 9th March 2024 against Cardiff at Rodney Parade kick off 14:30.