Bedwas RFC v Newport RFC 5th August by John Evans
It was apparent that Head Coach Ty Morris must have burned through his mobile ‘phone data allowance several times looking at the number of comings and goings around the Newport RFC squad. With the summer rugby doldrums coming to an end, it was time to get the pre-season friendlies underway. Bedwas were good enough to provide us with a fixture, which had many Newport supporters feeling apprehensive. After all, Bridge Field has been the scene of some proper batterings for Newport teams in the past against some gritty, hard, and talented Bedwas teams.
The evening was bright and sunny, but the pitch was like concrete; hopefully nobody was going to bust a shoulder in a nasty incident. The Newport squad selected was a mix of new and old, with quite a few new names for us supporters to learn. However, it was reassuring to see the likes of Henry Palmer, Josh Skinner, and the legends out wide, the Ninja Warrior and the Wing Commander, Messrs Morris and Frewen.
Newport ran out in their change strip of Monmouthshire blue, while Bedwas were in their regular black and white hoops. There was no team sheet available so, sadly, I am unable to identify the Bedwas squad, save for their number 8, and captain, former Newport hooker Dale Rogers.
Bedwas kicked off, forcing Newport to play into the setting evening sun. Jonny Morris took the catch and the Black and Ambers could begin to build. An early penalty gave the opportunity to kick ahead for position which was capitalised on. Cameron Lewis made room for Chay Foster-Smith who evaded some would-be tacklers and set up ball near the line. Elliot Frewen went close, but the ball popped out for Alex Grey to find space to cross. Kieran Meek added the conversion to make it Bedwas 0 Newport 7 on 2 minutes.
Craig Hudd, a recruit from Bedwas this summer, improvised a lineout take allowing Henry Palmer to make inroads into the Bedwas defence. Cameron Lewis caused mayhem in midfield with his strength and ability while raw talent from Kieran Meek created plenty of room for Chay Foster-Smith to cruise over for a try of his own. New name for the returning centre, same top-quality player. Meek added the two-pointer to make it Bedwas 0 Newport 14 on 4 minutes.
The hosts bared their teeth on nine minutes with a score of their own. A good rolling maul by their forwards had the Newport pack under pressure as defenders were sucked in as Bedwas looked for weak spots. The ball zipped out to the centres as their number 13 jinked around the defence for a well-taken try. That was converted making the score Bedwas 7 Newport 14.
Bedwas were proving resistant at this point, making Newport work hard for possession and then frustrating them as they attacked, just the sort of workout that the coaching team would be looking for as they sought to forge a coherent squad.
Dafydd Buckland was showing up well at scrum half, his service was quick and accurate, while he seemed to revel in slashing defences open with a darting run. His reward would come on 23 minutes as he spotted a gap in defence, streaked through and scored a well-taken try. Kieran Meek improved the score to make it Bedwas 7 Newport 21.
Newport conceded a penalty on 25 minutes prompting Bedwas to go to the corner. The pack rocked and rolled the maul but, fatally, split, giving veteran back-rower Rhys Jenkins room to get amongst them and wrap a strong arm around the ball and earn the turnover. Bedwas kept the pressure on, but the Newport pack upped the physicality and eased their way forward and pushed Bedwas away.
Jonny Morris was at the end of a promising 36th minute move as Cam Lewis, Foster-Smith and full back Evan Gregg made room for the winger, but the Bedwas cover did enough to force him into touch.
Quick thinking by Rhys Jenkins saw him charge down a 39th minute Bedwas free kick within their 22. Bedwas were at sixes and sevens as the ball bobbled loose and they conceded a penalty. Kieran Meek punted to the corner, Josh Skinner took the lineout ball allowing Henry Palmer to loop around and score the try, making the score Bedwas 7 Newport 26 as the halftime whistle blew.
Half Time Bedwas RFC 7 Newport RFC 26
The new Newport front row were to prove dominant during this half, with Dan Suter being joined by new recruits Joe Popple and Harri Bee. The home scrum was eased backwards more than once, most effectively on 46 minutes when Geraint Watkin, on for Buckland at 9, was given the room to dart left and reach out and dot down, making the score Bedwas 7 Newport 31.
Newport now had the confidence to cut loose; Harri Bee seems to possess a surprising turn of speed and he used this well on 49 minutes as he sliced through the defence finding the big Dragons centre Harry Ackerman to his left to stride in to score. Now, we, at Newport RFC, know a little about big, quality centres called Ackerman. We invented them, to be fair. This lad is no relation, we’re told, but is big, strong and talented, and just 17 years of age. The best of luck to him, he certainly looks the part. The score now was Bedwas 7 Newport 38 with Kieran Meek adding the two-pointer.
Josh Reid was next on the scoreboard. a kick chase bounced cruelly for Bedwas but luckily for Reid. He only had to alter his run slightly to take the ball and stride across for the next score. Meek added the conversion to make the score Bedwas 7 Newport 45 on 57 minutes.
Kieran Meek was withdrawn on 64 minutes with Cam Lewis moving in to 10 and goal-kicking being dispensed with. Harri Bee scored a great try on 68 minutes as he snaffled a loose ball at the tail of a Bedwas lineout. He turned on the afterburners again, stepped impressively as he left the Bedwas defender flat-footed and put Newport on the half century of points.
New back rower Lewis Thomas galloped upfield, ball in hand, on 71 minutes, but was closed down in the Bedwas 22. Cam Lewis executed a cross-kick to the corner, Matt O’Brien-style, but the over-eager attackers were offside, and a score went unclaimed.
Newport were stretching Bedwas at will by now, chucking the ball from side to side before passive scrums were enforced on 75 minutes following a Bedwas front-row injury. The ball spun out to the impressive Ackerman who bundled through some half-hearted tackling to dot down again. Bedwas 7 Newport 55.
Harri Bee claimed a second try for himself on 77 minutes putting Newport on 60 points before Cameron Lewis used his Wales 7s squad skills, scoring the final try as he chipped the defender sprinted past and regathered to score on full time.
Full Time: Bedwas RFC 7 Newport RFC 65
There are two further pre-season friendlies lined up. Next Saturday, August 13th, we travel across the Severn to meet up with Dings Crusaders at their terrific little ground near the M4. They’re a good club, and a warm welcome for Newport supporters is assured. Following that, we’re off to Bedfordshire to face Ampthill RFC, famously coached by Black and Amber legend Paul Turner. Ampthill are a big, strong team and will prove a formidable challenge for us. Please remember that there are rail strikes on both dates, so the best way to get to the games is by using the supporter’s buses. Please email Steve on email@example.com to reserve your seat.
Onwards and upwards, Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Final Score – Bedwas RFC 7 Newport RFC 65