SWA report :
Newport were 23-0 down at HT at Aberavon and three minutes later it was 30, but they played with enough heart to score 19-10 in the last 37 mins. To their credit they tackled magnificently and left few gaps, but were always playing catch-up and were up against a referee whose idea of penalty tries seemed to be from anywhere within 20 metres of the line. Two were awarded against Newport – the first when Richard Morris, in his 500th game for Aberavon – was about to score. The next two – one to either side – seemed ludicrous and neither side were happy about them. Newport coach Sven Cronk said: “We had prop problems with no recognized tight-head, but those penalty tries were amazing.”
Cronk, a former prop forward, like many others present could have laughed or cried at the standard by the official and worse was to come. Was he thinking of donning kit and being a prop again? “No. Absolutely not,” he laughed.
Wing Matthew Pewtner opened Newport’s account at 30-0 with a good try, but dislocated his shoulder diving over and had it put back in the dressing-room. Gareth Bowen converted well, but Aberavon scored a fourth try and conversion for 37-7. Then No 8 Hywel Stoddart got in at the corner and Newport were awarded a penalty try that Bowen converted. Aberavon ended with a penalty, but Newport continued to tackle well and the actual account of real tries had been two apiece.
Newport had started the game with no recognized goal-kicker, but team manager Mike Sage explained: “It will be Ryan James to do the kicking.” But, there were no chances for James and the first kick at goal was by Bowen, when he came on at fly half for James to move to scrum half in place of Josh Davies. Newport lost lock Dafydd Rosser in the first half with a head wound, but he returned later swathed in bandages.