Things looked ominous when Llanelli scored after just 47 secs. It was a move started in the Llanelli half and more than one missed tackle resulted in No 6 Craig Price touching down for Jordan Williams to convert. Gareth Bowen kicked a penalty on 3 mins and an opportunist try from wing Alan Awcock put Newport ahead after 10 mins. The try was initiated in the Newport half with Awcock putting in a tremendous run and getting the bounce from his chip ahead touched down in the corner. Newport were leading but struggling against a faster and higher tempo side. Poor tackling, poor passing and poor handling did not help the B&A’s cause and their scrum seemed to be creaking somewhat. The back row with Craig Hill (No 7 playing at 8) was ineffective unlike the visitors back row and half-backs Justin James and Jordan Williams had a field day for the visitors being given plenty of room aided by woeful tackling. The only real plus point in the 1st half was that Newport managed to take more than their share of line-out ball. Below par Newport paid the penalty as Llanelli ran in 3 further tries before half time. Greg George, (22mins), Shaun Hopkins (37mins) and the elusive scrum half Justin James (40+7mins). Ironically the last try came after a Llanelli counter attack when Newport should have scored. Two conversions from impressive No 10 Jordan Williams made the score 8-26 at HT. To add to Newport’s problems two of their better players - wing Alan Awcock left the field on 28 mins to be replaced by scrum-half James Leadbeater and Adam Frampton was replaced by Dafydd Rosser just before HT. Newport rang the changes in the 2nd half with hooker Sam Parry, prop Aaron Coundley, back row Carl Townsend, No 10 Lewis Robling and centre Luke Plummer all came on and to their credit Newport showed character and determination to come back and win the 2nd half scoring 3 tries to 1 in spite of scrum-half Ryan James receiving a red card on75 mins for use of knee. Newport’s 4 and bonus point try came from Leadbeater on 80+2 mins. The Bisley Stand used for the first time looked impressive but sadly for Newport their performance did not match.
It was a very, very poor performance in the first half, as bad as we have been,” said Cronk. “We were a different side in the second half and that just adds to the frustration. All we did at half-time was re-iterate points that we had made all week, about not entering into sevens-style rugby, about playing with control. We were more direct after the break and the subs gave us impetus. They stuck their hands up for selection and people will get their chances” Newport : E Frewen, A Awcock (J Leadbeater 28), W Rees-Hole, S Williams (L Plummer 53), O Broad, G Bowen (L Robling 43) , R James, D Pattison (A Coundley 43) , A Brown (capt) (S Parry 43), T Davies, A Frampton (D Rosser 40+1), A Jones, S Waldron (C Townsend 59), R Jenkins, C Hill.
Scorers: Tries - A Awcock, O Broad, W Rees-Hole, J Leadbeater and G Bowen 1p, L Robling 1c. Red card : Ryan James 75mins (knee in back of player).
Llanelli : J Lewis (D Higgins 22), R Bayliss (J Ronowitz 69), I Evans, C Keenan, B Davies, J Williams, J James (M Haylock 59), S Hopkins, G George (R Thomas 59), A Hopkins (R Jones HT), A Powell (capt), C Price, D Eager (N White 65), M Gilbert (L Griffiths 65). Scorers : Tries - C Price, G George, S Hopkins, J James, R Bayliss and J Williams 3c, 2p. Yellow card : B Davies 41mins.
Referee : Gwyn Morris.
Photos courtesy of Ron Sutcliffe and Simon Latham :