Newport failed to take advantage of territory and possession and Pontypool grab a vital win to secure Premier League rugby for next season.
Newport: G Wyatt; M Poole, A Hughes, P Leach (S Williams 77), C Wannell, A Walker ( A Quick 77) D Pattison , Andrew Brown , G Robinson (D Way 74), D Rosser,, Adam Brown ( M Workman 32), R Dale (D McShane 46), S Waldron, A Coombs (capt). Scorers: Tries – A Walker, D Pattison and C Wannell 1c, 1p. Reps not used : L Hunter, N Williams. Referee: Sean Brickell.
Scott Williams' 150th official appearance for Newport RFC.
Chris Kirwan, SWA :Pontypool secured their Premiership status with an incredible 20-15 win over Newport, condemning Ebbw Vale to Division One East. Pooler had their chance to seal their top flight status when they travelled to Eugene Cross Park at the weekend but blew it with an under-par and strangely lethargic display. They made up for it last night with a spirited backs-to-the-wall victory over a Newport side that dominated for most of the game only to blow chances galore. Newport’s target of securing their place in next season’s British and Irish Cup had already been accomplished by Tuesday evening’s results. But the Black and Ambers produced a committed performance that would have delighted the conspiracy theorists in Ebbw Vale who were predicting the Rodney Parade outfit would roll over. Those Steelmen should know better, what makes them think that Newport have any more love for Pooler than they do for Ebbw? As it was they proved it on the pitch where they did most of the pressing and would have been comfortable winners had they not snatched at their chances. But Pooler won’t care a jot about the manner of the win - all that mattered was the four points for victory.
It was a frantic start on a hard, fast track with Newport doing most of the pressing. They stretched Pontypool from side to side but the hosts hung on in there, aided by some impatience from the Black and Ambers. All Newport had to show for edging the first quarter was a penalty from Chris Wannell and a smash and grab job looked on the cards when Pooler scrum-half Jon Evans made a lightning break from a scrum inside his 22. Unfortunately the highly-rated Dragons Academy prospect, who is scheduled to be wearing Newport colours next season, had no support and the attack fizzled out after his 50-metre run. Pooler did have something to show from their next attack when full-back Geraint O’Driscoll punished a Newport infringement with three points and that seemed to galvanise the hosts. But it took some frantic last-ditch defence to prevent Newport centre Adam Hughes going over in the corner after he was put down the left by smart handling by full-back Gareth Wyatt and wing Mike Poole. Hughes was shepherded into touch five yards out but Newport stole the lineout and it led too yet more scrambling to stop centre Pat Leach inches short and the visitors once again frittered away possession. It was one-way traffic with the visitors dominating possession and territory yet it was the hosts who went into the break with their noses in front. Newport skipper Andrew Coombs made a mess of running from the base of the scrum 25 metres from his own line and Evans snatched possession and started an attack. The Black and Ambers managed to scramble but flanker Cae Trayhern was on hand to power his way over next to the sticks, making O’Driscoll’s conversion a simple one.
However, the early stages of the second half followed the same pattern and scrum-half Alex Walker spun his way over the whitewash on 47 minutes after the visitors had laid siege to the Pooler line, Wannell levelling the scores with the conversion. The Black and Ambers were well and truly on top but somehow kept blowing chances and somehow Pooler stayed on level terms. But it was advantage Newport when loosehead prop Dai Pattison went over in the left corner after quick recycling from a searing 50-metre Alan Awcock break. Wannell was wide from the touchline conversion and O’Driscoll quickly reduced the deficit with another penalty. The theme continued with the visitors blowing opportunities yet Pooler went on the attack on 70 mins, though with a touch of controversy. There was contact between referee Sean Brickell and Dan McShane when the flanker went on the charge but the official didn’t stop play. A turnover and a scrum later and Pooler were in the 22 where they charged at the line and centre Macey barged over. O’Driscoll converted and Pooler had five minutes to see out, something they did - just.
Pontypool scorers: tries - C Trayhern, C Macey and G O’Driscoll 2c, 2p.
Argus star man: Jon Evans (Pontypool)