This was always going to be a tough match for Newport and things were made worse when No10 Lewis Robling and No 8 Hugh Ellis were called up by the Dragons. With Gareth Bowen still recovering from an ankle injury, young Dragons Academy 18 yr old Nial Martin was plunged into the deep end.
Newport started brightly enough with their scrum more than holding their own. Stand-in place kicker Jamie Leadbeater put the B&A's ahead on just 2 mins and missed a further chance on 12 mins. Then the first of Newport's misfortunes struck as Leadbeater went off with a groin injury on just 16 mins. Jamie Davies kicked penalties for the Wizards on 20 and 22 mins and then further problems for Newport with lock Alex Jones leaving the field on 22 mins with an ankle injury. Nial Martin missed a penalty for Newport on 24 mins and then to add to Newport's woes top try scorer Alan Awcock left the field with a wrist injury on 39 mins. A further penalty by Jamie Davies gave Aberavon a 9-3 lead at half time and Newport knew then that it always going to be an up-hill fight.
Iwan Davies, SWA writes :
NEWPORT endured a difficult afternoon at Rodney Parade where the unfortunate loss of three key players to injury in the first half had a significant impact on the outcome. The first forced to leave the fray was influential scrum-half James Leadbeater with a groin strain after just over a quarter of an hour’s play. Second rower Alex Jones followed just a few minutes later when he hobbled off with an ankle problem. And if that wasn’t bad enough, centre Alan Awcock seemed to have badly damaged his wrist just before the interval. And matters had been compounded with playmaker Lewis Robling away on Newport Gwent Dragons duty on Friday night. The Black and Ambers outside-half made his regional debut in the centre during the Dragons’ 24-19 in Firhill against Glasgow. With Gareth Bowen injured and Ryan James suspended, Dragons Academy player Niall Martin was thrust into the limelight and the teenager, just 18, did OK on his debut. And despite a valiant team effort, Newport were second best against a crack high-flying Aberavon side who won their fifth league game out of six on Saturday.
Things had started so well for the home side after they took an early lead through a Leadbeater penalty. They got the better of the early exchanges but workmanlike Aberavon were soon back in the game thanks to their deadly outside-half Jamie Davies – who didn’t miss a shot at goal all day – converting their pressure into points. He hit three first-half penalties to take his side into a 9-3 half-time lead in what was a forgettable lacklustre opening 40 mins.
The second half was scarcely any better in terms of entertainment. Although Newport made a number of line-breaks, Matthew Pewtner in particular caused serious problems for the Wizards, they were unable to capitalise on promising situations. Davies’ fourth penalty made it 12-3 before centre Ben John’s converted try killed the game off with ten minutes to go as this strange game fizzled out. For Newport, openside flanker Darren Waters played with plenty of guts and replacement Sam Waldron did a sterling job when he came on for Alex Jones.
Photos courtesy of Simon Latham and Ron Sutcliffe ::