Chris Kirwan, SWA writes : On-fire winger Mike Poole brought table-toppers Swansea crashing down to earth at Rodney Parade and ensured Newport make the weekend trip to Cornwall with a spring in their step. The Black and Ambers brushed aside the Whites with ease 43-9 to go third and had their four-try bonus point in the bag before half-time. At first glance it was a clash that could have been timed better for Newport given their winner-takes-all encounter against the Cornish Pirates on Sunday. In fact it was perfect preparation for the weekend with Newport avenging a 38-6 drubbing at St Helen’s and grabbing five vital points in their bid to claim a top four place that will bring automatic qualification for next season’s cross-border tournament. The revenge for the September defeat out west will be sweet especially as the chopsy league leaders, who were on a winning streak of seven games, were clearly rattled by the first-half onslaught. Yet it was Newport who made a sloppy start, summed up by conceding a penalty from the kick-off that former Black and Amber James Dixon knocked over. But the hosts worked their way into the game and were up 22-3 on 26 mins, largely thanks to the efforts of talisman wing Poole. He came off his left flank to slice through midfield from first phase play 40m out on 16 mins and inside centre Scott Williams went over the line after good link work by fly-half Chris Wannell. Then, after Wannell’s conversion, the wing went over himself after Alan Awcock’s up and under was spilt straight into his path. The hosts then had the chances to take total command but exciting outside centre Adam Hughes (who will surely be starring for the Dragons this time next year) was deemed to have been held up over the line much to his disbelief and scrum-half Alex Walker knocked on when they were pressing on the line. But it was soon 22-3 when Poole was over under the posts courtesy of a replica move to try number one. Nicky Thomas knocked over a penalty in reply to ensure the Newport faithful, mindful of the Swalec Cup implosion against Cardiff, didn’t take the win for granted. But the bonus point was in the bag on the stroke of half-time when Wannell flopped over the line. A breakaway try seemed on the cards courtesy of a botched Newport midfield move inside the 22 but instead the ball fell kindly for the grateful fly-half. Thomas inched the Whites closer with a penalty 10 minutes after the break and it was with some relief that there was no further score going into the last quarter. In fact Newport had 14 men (Craig Hill in the sin bin) to the visitors 13 (Richard Kelly and Ricky Williams shown yellow) to further take the sting out. And it was game over on 67 mins when Poole was first to Walker’s grubber kick through and then flanker Sam Waldron crashed over from Ryan Owen’s terrific off-load.
It was a a deficit in double figures - a one-point win in Newport’s favour will do on Sunday.
Newport: A Awcock, M Poole, A Hughes (P Leach 70), S Williams, R Owen, C Wannell (D Griffiths HT), A Walker (A Quick 69), D Pattison, Andrew Brown (C Attwell 70), D Way, M Workman (D Rosser 69), Adam Brown, S Waldron, C Hill, A Coombs (capt, D McShane 69).
Scorers: Tries - S Williams, M Poole (3), C Wannell, S Waldron and C Wannell 2c, 1p, A Awcock 1c, D Griffiths 2c.
Swansea: N Thomas, H Dirksen, C Shelmerdine, D Watts (R Williams 33), N Jones, J Dixon, R Wells (P Tucker 69), T Evans (R Jones 40), S Baldwin, L May (A Clatworthy 40), S Kiley (captain, P Arnold 73)), R Kelly, L Jones, S Lewis (M Popham 9), S Jones.
Scorers: J Dixon 1p, N Thomas 2p
Referee: David Bodilly (Cardiff). Argus Star Man: Mike Poole