NEWPORT failed to halt Llanelli improving their chances of retaining the Welsh Premiership title this evening, writes Tony Poole.
A 16th league defeat of the season for the Black and Ambers has left them striving for victory in their final outing – Pontypool away this Saturday – in order to remain 10th. The victory allowed Llanelli to become the fourth club in as many days to top the table, following in the footsteps of Neath, Llandovery and Aberavon.
Newport were prominent in attack early on through centres Luke Plummer and Scott Williams without making the breakthrough. But they fell behind in the 12th minute after a kick through from fly-half Ryan James ran for Llanelli full-back Jordan Williams. He opted to run the ball out of defence, and outpaced the cover on a thrilling 80-metre dart to the try-line. Though Williams missed the touchline conversion, he was on target soon after with a penalty that stretched the lead to eight points. But Newport deservedly opened their account in the 21st min when full-back Gareth Bowen knocked over a 35-metre penalty. And although the Black and Ambers continued to pose a threat in attack, they fell further behind in the 28th min. They fell off too many tackles, allowing centre Nic Reynolds to cut through, and second-phase ball led to full-back Williams claiming another unconverted try. Pressure close to the goal line led to the Sospans collecting a third try in the 34th min – captain Craig Hawkins powering over for the touchdown, and full-back Williams converted. Llanelli registered the bonus point from final play with back row Craig Price touching down and full-back Williams adding a second conversion for 27-3.
Newport’s misery was compounded when Llanelli scored two tries in as many minutes on the restart from centre Nic Reynolds and a hat-trick effort from full-back Williams, who converted both. And as Newport continued to chase shadows they leaked another try to lock Nathan White in the 52nd min. They did manage a try in the 69th min – a close-range effort from replacement hooker Dale Rogers that went unconverted – but full-back Williams touched down for a fourth time at the death in a 35-point contribution.