2009/2010 British & Irish Cup
Newport 21 v 14 Exeter Chiefs
20 November 2009 - Rodney Parade, Newport
Exeter Chiefs

Match Report

Newport 21 Exeter Chiefs 14 (HT: 18-0)

The crowd may have been smaller but many compared this match with the Heineken Cup match vs Bath back in 2000 and for sheer excitement who would argue? Exeter Chiefs are currently the run away leaders of the English Championship having won 11 from 11 matches. True they decided to rest some players and give match time to other squad members but at the end of the day it was a professional team playing a semi-professional team and Newport rose magnificently to the occasion.

Newport having injury problems in the centre played Tom Cooper on permit from Bedwas alongside Richard Payne, permit from Swansea. Newport started sharply and could have taken the lead on 4 mins but Wannell sent the penalty wide but then a worrying looking injury to Exeter prop Ruaidhri Murphy after a scrum went down, held the game up for the best part of 10 mins. Murphy suffered a broken elbow rather than a back injury. On 20 mins there was an almighty punch-up involving both packs and a number of backs. Locks Dafydd Rosser and former Dragon Sean Tomes were sent to the bin and the game restarted again. Newport continued to press and on 30 mins fly-half Chris Wannell kicked a nice penalty. Exeter twice decided to kick to the corner rather than go for the posts but each time Newport’s line-out and excellent defence allowed them to clear their lines.

Captain Andrew Coombs then got the ball to Alex Walker from a scrum 30 yards out and his flat pass went to full-back Gareth Wyatt, who simply glided through the defence with impressive speed. Wannell converted for a score of 10-0 on 40 mins. Two mins later he kicked a penalty given away by Tomes. On the 40+10 min - still the 1st half - it was Wyatt again - this time from a perfect chip and gather to dash over and Wannell to convert for a HT score of 21-0 to the home side.

On 45 mins after the re-start, Danny Gray missed a penalty for Exeter and then Newport loose-head Dai Pattison was binned by referee Graham Knox on 47 mins and Exeter laid siege to the Newport line.On 51 mins No 8 Michael Stupple barged over from a scrum after Newport’s 7 man pack went backwards and was shoved off their own ball. Gray converted and Exeter started to get back into the game. Dragons Academy player Toby Faletau - who had played for Cross Keys against Newport earlier in the season - came on for Craig Hill on 57 mins. Pattison returned to the field but a blow for Newport was Wannell going off with a knock to his leg and being replaced by Dan Griffiths and further trouble for Newport was a further yellow card - this time for wing Alan Awcock being adjudged to have taken a player out. A dangerous tackle by Sam Waldron on 67 mins put Newport down to 13 men and having to defend desperately but defend they did. It was a magnificent rearguard action as player after player tackled themselves almost to a standstill. Exeter wing Nic Sestaret got over on 80 mins and Gray converted on 80+1 min and still there was 7 mins to play but Newport’s superb defence held. Player after player had put their body on the line in the 2nd half where Newport effectively played the whole half with just 14 men due to 4 yellow cards – none more so than Andrew Coombs and Sam Waldron and new boys Cooper and Faletau played their part with Cooper being brought down short of the line.

Head coach Sven Cronk was rightly proud of his team after the match who had not only retained their unbeaten home record but had also taken Exeter's unbeaten record.

Newport: G Wyatt, R Owen, R Payne, T Cooper, A Awcock, C Wannell (D Griffiths 57), A Walker, D Pattison (I Evans 76) A Brown (M Leaman 76), G Robinson, D Rosser, A Jones (A Frampton 70), S Waldron, C Hill (I Evans 48-57, T Faletau 57), A Coombs (capt).

Scorers : Tries - G Wyatt (2) and C Wannell 1c, 3p.

Yellow cards : D Rosser 20 (fighting), D Pattison 47/57, A Awcock 58, S Waldron 67 (dangerous tackle )

Exeter: S Marsden, N Sestaret, B Rennie (M Cornwall 72), T Bedford, P McKenzie, D Gray, C Stuart-Smith (R Bolt 63), B Moon, S Nelson (S Blythe 59), R Murphy (J Andrew 10), S Tomes (T Freeman 55), J Hanks, Alan Miller (capt), Andy Miller (L Calder 76), M Stupple (D Ewers 76).

Scorers : Tries - M Stupple, N Sestaret and D Gray 2c.

Yellow card : S Tomes 20 (fighting)

Referee: Graham Knox (SRU)

Asst refs : David Williams (WRU) & Mike Bethell (WRU)


Attendance: 798

Official : Graham Knox (Scotland)

Newport Exeter Chiefs