Newport RFC : 2006/7 Season Summary

Season 2006/7

P28 W17 D2 L9 : F677-A504 (Tries 81-55)

Premier Lge Record : P26 W16 D2 L8 F619 A480 (Tries 70-49)

Premier League 3rd Place

Capt : Dai Pattison

Ian Hembrow , the Ospreys U18 coach took on the coaching role in 2006/7 took on the coaching role. Ian was a former back-row with Maesteg and South Wales place and came close to winning a Welsh cap. Popular prop Dai Pattison was chosen as captain. Newport had released several of the previous season’s squad including forwards Neil Watkins, Craig Powell, Chris Davies and Marc Popham along with backs Ricky Williams, Richard Payne and Will Kershaw-Naylor. Rhys Shorney had retired and Rhys “Jimmy” Jones had moved with his work to Ireland. To offset these losses Newport had recruited wing / centre Ryan Howells (Bridgend), goal kicking full-back / outside half James Dixon (Maesteg), wing / centre Nathan Willimas (Cross Keys), former Newport centre Scott Williams (Pontypool), No 8 Andrew Coombs (Pontypool), lock James Connors (Glamorgan Wdrs), former Newport flanker Craig Hill (Bedwas)), win g Mike Poole (Pontypool), back Luke Hathaway (Bridgend Ath) and former Pontypool / London Welsh flanker Richard Feld was expected to join. Thye also would have the service of Dragon Academy players Jamie Corsi (prop), Lewis Evans (back-row), Rhys Webb (Ospreys Academy scrum-half), Gareth Maule (centre), Jason Tovey (fly-half / fullback)

Back-row Sam Waldron stepped down to concentrate on business activities.

The season got off to the worst possible start as Aberavon recorded their first league win at Rodney Parade for 22 years (16-19). Newport’s pack was never able to dominate and although they threw everything into the attack late in the 2nd half they were left to rue the fact they did not take the kicks at goal when Aberavon conceded many penalties. It was a disappointing start for the team which contained 8 debutants. Newport then won at Eugene Cross Park thanks mainly to stout defence and accurate kicking by outside-half Dan Griffiths. Newport played better to gain wins against Maesteg (H), Bridgend (H) and Bedwas (A) but were brought back down to earth when a complacent Newport went down surprisingly at St Helens. 10 tries against Llandovery at Rodney Parade and a come-back from 7-14 down at Sardis Road to win 22-14 set things up nicely for the visit of the old enemy Cardiff. The Blue & Blacks have never won at Rodney Parade in the semi-professional era and only a try by prop Ian Evans on 80 mins saved Newport. The conversion was missed by James Dixon but in truth this was a match that Newport should have won rather than draw 18-18. Newport won at Glamorgan Wanderers to stay top of the Premier but then lost 13-27 at Stradey Park to the league’s highest try scorers in match they were never able to dominate up front. Then came an excellent win at Rodney Parade vs powerful Neath. Newport were under-strength through injuries and only had 1 back on the bench but showed great determination to hold off champions Neath to regain top spot. A first win at the Old Parish since March 1995 was followed by a defeat at the Brewery Field in a match that they never got into. In this match Dan Griffiths kicked 2 penalties to tie him with Norman Morgan in 3rd place of the all time Newport RFC scorers. A late Dan Griffiths penalty at Pandy Park got a 13-133 draw in a match they should have won. Home wins against Bedwas and Swansea was followed by their first ever defeat at Church Bank to Llandovery when Newport failed to master the win and New Zealander Jon Elrick scored all 25 pts for the home team.

Newport won 55-7 at Division One Bonymaen in the Welsh Cup only to keep their record of never having beaten Llanelli in the Cup when they lost at home 3-17. Llanelli took their chances and Scarlets regional full-back Morgan Stoddart was the star as he created one try an scored another himself. Newport gained their 4th consecutive win at Cardiff Arms Park only to dent their title hopes with a dreadful home display vs Glamorgan Wdrs. They completed the double over Ebbw Vale as mark Workman made his 200th appearance for Newport RFC. A weakened Newport with 8 squad players missing

Newport beat Llanelli and Cross Keys at home only to go down 12-30 at the Gnoll in a surprisingly one sided match. They kept their title hopes alive with a 28-21 win at Talbot Athletic Ground with Dan Griffiths moving into 2nd place in the all time points record ahead now of Shane Howarth and behind Paul Turner. Had they beaten Pontypridd on the last match of the season instead of throwing it away then they would have joined Neath at the top but Neath would have been crowned champions. The defeat meant that they slipped to 3rd place behind Neath and Ebbw Vale.

Newport had the small consolation of being the best Gwent team with 5 wins and 1 draw in their 6 matches with double over Bedwas and Ebbw Vale but they will look back on what might have been. They paid dearly for some poor performance against the so-called lesser rugby sides – one of whom (Llandovery) went on to beat Cardiff in the Konica Minolta Cup. Ian Hembrow will feel satisfied with his first season as at times he was cruelly hit by injuries and player availability and at one stage he had to work with 3 full-backs and 4 back-rows missing and often he had only 7 fit backs and no scrum-half cover. It will be difficult to match Neath who consistently have a large and well sponsored squad.

40 different players were used in the season with 18 making their debuts. Leading try scorer was Ryan Howells with 11 while leading points scorer was James Dixon with 175. Gethin Robinson and Dai Pattison made most appearances with 27 out of a possible 28. Ian “Ike” Evans was most used replacement (15) followed by James Dixon (12). There were 17 yellow-cards (Matt Thomas 3, Matt Veater 3) and 2 red-cards for G Robinson, C Hill – Gethin’s being squashed later on appeal. Andrew Brown, Richard Dale and Scott Williams passed 50 appearances and Dan Griffiths, Dai Pattison and Gethin Robinson 100 during the season. Dan Griffiths passed 1000pts and finished as 2nd highest on 1044 behind Paul Turner on 1154. 70 league tries were scored compared with 2003/4 (142), 2004/5(128) and 2005/6 (58).

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Cardiff 4 4 0 0 108 63 18
Aberavon 4 4 0 0 96 74 16
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 4 3 0 1 112 88 14
Swansea 4 2 0 2 88 74 11
Llandovery 3 2 0 1 90 70 10
Pontypridd 4 2 0 2 86 95 10
Merthyr 4 1 0 3 93 90 8
Ebbw Vale 4 1 0 3 109 127 7
Newport 3 1 0 2 69 70 7
Carmarthen Quins 3 1 0 2 65 72 5
Bridgend Ravens 3 1 0 2 56 79 5
Llanelli 4 0 0 4 67 137 1