A very spirited performance from a makeshift Newport squad was not enough to get thewm to thew play-off final at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday. This was always going to be a match too far for Newport who were struggling to put a team together. Newport were then struck two further blows before KO with the withdrawal of No 10 and place kicker Chris Wannell (upset stomach) and prop Dai Pattison whose troublesome knee finally gave out. Newport were forced to go into the match without regulars Adam Hughes, Robling, Griffiths, Pattison, Adam Brown, Alex Jones, Craig Hill, Paul Williams and captain Andrew Coombs. Furthermore they had to switch Gareth Wyatt to No 10 and have 3 scrum-halves in a squad of only 21.
In the end Newport went down by 4 tries to 3 with all Swansea tries being scored by Ospreys Dirksen and Prydie who is also in current Welsh Squad . These same two players scored 5 tries in the previous play-off match vs Newport at St Helens.
Chris Kirwan SWA writes :
Newport's season is finally over after they suffered a 31-17 Premiership play-off defeat to Swansea at St Helen’s.
The Whites now face Neath in the final at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday while the Black and Ambers can rest their weary bodies after a gruelling 36-game season. Last night was all about restoring some pride after suffering a 60-19 drubbing in the first round of the play-offs.They did just that with a spirited display despite enduring a frantic hour of build-up with failed fitness tests meaning that their bench was a man short and a full-back was at fly-half, flanker at lock and tighthead prop on the loosehead.
Newport’s defensive record of 470 points conceded from their 26 regular season games was the best in the league.
But the tired Black and Ambers allowed 95 to be put on them in their first two play-off games and another 31 was added last night. However, their woes in the end-of-season tournament should not take away from Newport’s season, though they will freely admit that they peaked around the Six Nations. They shone in the British and Irish Cup and a good indicator of their efforts came on Sunday when the Cornish Pirates, who pipped them to first place in the group, won it by beating Munster. But the hangover of slugging it out with big, physical teams in the cross-border competition has been felt over the last few months. Players have played with injury and the play-offs have been a step too far for a squad that was already looking weary. Nonetheless, they dug deep for one last effort and gave Swansea as good as they got with back row forwards Richard Dale and Dan McShane, who have been real team men while biding their the bench this season, immense.
Both teams signalled their intent to run the ball from the off with Newport’s Alan Awcock and Mike Poole looking just as threatening as the a rapid Swansea backline that crossed for all nine tries when the sides met weeks earlier. There was plenty for the Black and Ambers to look out for with teenage speedsters Tom Prydie and Eli Walker on the wings and try machine Hanno Dirksen at 13. But they defended excellently and limited the hosts to a pair of Nicky Thomas penalties on 2 and 23 mins. However, the game changed on 27 minutes when Swansea crossed for the first try just seconds after Newport had blown a golden chance of their own. The Black and Ambers exploited the blitz defence to send centre Pat Leach flying into enemy territory but his pass to Poole, who was in acres of land down the left, was woeful and forward. The Whites made them pay immediately, Prydie winning the race to a chip over the last man (when a more simply draw and pass was on) by Nicky Thomas.The Wales wing took just three mins to double his tally and it was again thanks to the boot, the sprinter winning the race to a hack through. But Newport had hope on the stroke of half-time when number eight Dan McShane barged his way over for a well-deserved from a 5m scrum to make it 16-5. The visitors pressed at the end of the half but were unable to chip further into the hosts’ lead.
But they did just that on 49 mins when a series of scrums on the Swansea line were rewarded with a penalty try, Gareth Wyatt adding the extras. Thomas edged the hosts seven points clear with a booming penalty on 55 and then Dirksen raced under the sticks to apply what appeared to be the killer blow with a quarter left. But Awcock exploited some weak tackling to go over down the right, though Wyatt’s conversion missed and the score was 26-17.
And Newport’s efforts to squeeze back in front came to nothing, with Dirksen sealing the deal with his second try at the death.
Swansea scorers: Ties - T Prydie (2), H Dirksen (2) and N Thomas 1p, J Dixon 1c, 2p.
Newport scorers: Tries - D McShane, penalty, A Awcock and G Wyatt 1c.
Argus star man: Dan McShane