Newport deservedly completed the double over Premier title hopefuls Ebbw Vale – their 6th in 13 league seasons - to stay in the title hunt. There was plenty of effort, aggression and frantic defence with rare scoring chances. Newport No 8 Richard Dale opted to go for the line himself 10yds out when left wing Mike Poole had a simple run-in to his left. The only other real chance in a pedestrian first half came in first-half injury time when a superb covering tackle from winger Richard Fussell prevented Vale's Neil Edwards crossing in the left corner after being put in by hooker Matthew Williams and wing Andrew Bevan.
The first half was dominated by the boot, with James Dixon's three penalties to Sam Mills' two giving Newport a 9-6 HT lead. Many thought that No 6 Matthew Veater was unluckily yellow-carded after 20 mins when he hurdled over a ruck - waved on by the referee - only for Vale No 6 John Bowd to take exception. Veater’s retaliation with his fists was penalised by referee Tim Hayes though the visitors were lucky to survive the whole match with 15 men not least of all for a stamping by scrum-half Shelbourne which only warranted a word from the referee. The yellow card now puts Veater on 3 yellows for the season and an automatic match ban.
After just 3 mins of the 2nd half Newport flanker Paul Williams was yellow carded apparently for dragging down a maul as Vale were pressing. Newport defended superbly both times when they were a man down and did not concede a single point – in fact they scored themselves to rub salt into Ebbw Vale’s wound. Superb covering by flanker Nio Aiono prevented Fussell scoring after a clever chip over the top by hard-working scrum-half Matthew Thomas who may not have the fastest service but undeniable has tenacity and leadership qualities and once again unsettled his opposite number Bryan Sherbourne
Constantly infringing Ebbw Vale gave James Dixon two more penalties and a Newport lead of 15-6 and they now had the wind behind them and pinned Ebbw Vale back.
Wales U18 ruled out Newport full-back Jason Tovey and flu ruled out Vale full back Andrew McLaughlan but Gareth Miles
proved a more than able deputy for Vale on the right wing with Simon Hunt moving to 15. Injury also ruled out Nathan Williams, Lewis Evans and Andrew Coombs for Newport.
The visitors grabbed a lifeline when they scored the opening try on 67 mins after a good break by replacement centre Dan Phillips who put wing Andrew Bevan in after several badly missed tackles by the Newport defence. Mills missed the conversion to give Newport a 4 pt cushion who then put the pressure on and after centre Scott Williams was dragged down just short of the line and Gethin Robinson was held up over the line, James Ireland finally crossed to seal the win for Newport.
Lock Mark Workman made his 200th official appearance and prop Gethin Robinson his 100th league appearance for Newport RFC and both can feel well pleased with their perfomances as can the rest of the team.
Match photos :