Report by Rhys Jones
A busy April for the Black & Ambers has begun with a mammoth victory over Carmarthen Quins.
Newport were on a run of four consecutive wins, including the Premiership Cup Semi-final against Pontypridd and last week’s impressive League outing at Sardis Road in front of the S4C cameras. They were full of confidence going into tonight’s clash.
This month sees the games coming thick and fast and growing in importance, with a Premiership top four place to fight for and the Cup to retain in a few weeks’ time.
It was important, therefore, to keep the momentum going and to start on the front foot against the West Walians at Newport Stadium.
Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was observed for Tony Brown who had passed away earlier in the day. It goes without saying, Tony has left an incredible legacy for the game in our city, not least the memories of silverware, star signings and stunning evenings at Rodney Parade his tenure delivered.
Soon after everyone present took the opportunity to pay their respects, another evening of rugby in Newport got underway, and it took the home side just six minutes to open the scoring.
A simple catch-and-drive move finished by hooker, James Benjamin, on permit from the Dragons, secured his first touchdown in his adopted colours. Captain, Matt O’Brien, kicked his first of eight points for the evening.
Quins replied with a Steffan Marshall penalty kick, but the gap was soon to be widened; their flanker, Ed Siggery, earned himself a break in the sin-bin for a tackle off the ball which then led to Benjamin doubling his tally of tries for the club and doubling his side’s tally of points for the night.
It was a case of déjà-vu, as the Black & Ambers took advantage of some good territory to force a lineout in Carmarthen’s twenty-two and complete another clinical catch-and-drive move.
There were a couple of contenders for try of the evening and Newport’s third try was certainly a strong candidate. Chay Foster-Smith bulldozed through the defence to find Lloyd Lewis before Che Hope’s imaginative back-of-the-head pass found Geraint O’Driscoll to cross over.
Elliot Frewen then secured the bonus point before the half-hour mark after a lineout in the Quins’ twenty-two saw him dance his way through the fragile defensive line to score. O’Brien successfully converted all four tries to maximise his team’s tally.
The visitors had an opportunity get a consolation try before the break and they took it. Harrison Griffiths broke through the Newport defence to come agonisingly close, before Siggery, fresh from his yellow card earlier in the half, picked up the ball from the resulting ruck to dive over and complete the attack.
HANNER AMSER: B&As 28-10 Carmarthen
The Quins would have needed a strong start to the second half to avoid heading home empty-handed, but the Black & Ambers had other plans.
With Newport already camping in their opponents’ twenty-two, O’Brien received the ball from Hope before launching it across the field to Frewen on the left wing who bagged his second of the night.
Then, to rub more salt in the wounds, the home side got themselves another with barely 55 minutes on the clock. Lewis did well to catch an awkward pass on his right wing, before squeezing through any gap imaginable in the backline and feeding substitute Joe Westwood, another on permit from the Dragons.
Joe, son of former B&A Jonathan, assisted a couple of wonderful tries at Pontypridd last week and got his first try for Newport this evening. He looks to emulate his father’s try count of 18 during his spell in the early 1990s but is far more likely to achieve greater things in the game, certainly if his Premiership performances thus far are anything to go by.
Westwood almost bagged a second moments later; an attack ignited when he found some space in the Quins defence to help his teammates go from their own twenty-two to their opponents’, however the young centre unfortunately couldn’t find the final pass to add yet another assist to his name.
Carmarthen made Newport pay and got themselves a try from almost nothing and their contender for try of the evening. A cross-kick close to their own try line found centre, Dylan Richards, whose galloping run left the home defenders helplessly hoping. The ball eventually reached the hands of substitute, Josh Batcup, who, along with Marshall’s boot, scored their side’s final points of the night.
Newport have capitalised on catch-and-drive moves all season, and one man to have benefitted more than anyone is Henry Palmer. The replacement hooker already has seven tries to his name this campaign, more than he has amassed during any other season, and that figure became eight early in the final quarter. No ‘brownie points’ though for guessing how.
Matt Bancroft’s boot added the extras before he himself doubled his own tally for the night after Man of the Match, Kyle Tayler, crossed over in the final seconds of injury time. This capped off another incredible performance by the flanker and an impressive win for the Black & Ambers to set a statement for those vying for a place in the post-season.
SGÔR TERFYNOL: B&As 52-17 Carmarthen
This bonus point win cements the Black & Ambers’ place in the top half of the table and takes them only three and six points respectively behind Ebbw Vale in 5th and Aberavon in 4th, with games in hand over both.
Though, as previously mentioned, the games are coming thick and fast and we really need your support! On Saturday (8 April, 2.30pm), we travel a couple of miles into town to Rodney Parade, where we host Merthyr, before welcoming Bridgend to Newport Stadium on Wednesday evening (12 April, 7.30pm).
Take your place in the Black & Amber Wall this April and show your support for…
Your City, Your Colours, Your Club!
#COTP (Come on the ‘Port) #YmlaenCasnewydd