Captain Craig Attwell gets Newport's 1st try - supported by Tim Ryan
(Photo copyright Simon Latham)
Newport surprised many this afternoon with a workmanlike performance to record a deserved 18-14 win against their Irish professional opposition and once again showed that they are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the B&IC.
What turned out to be the winning try was scored by Will Richards on 80 mins but Newport still had to survive a further 11 mins of added time. To their credit they did and in fact they almost added to the score when replacement wing Alan Awcock almost made the line after a super 50 metre cross field run.
In the first half there was not much between the two sides but the Eagles always looked dangerous on the counter attack or break but unlike last week against Bridgend the Newport team tackled to a man to keep the visitors in check. In the first 30 mins there were 5 penalty attempts - 3 for Tom Hancock and 2 for Tadhg Leader with 1 success for each to make the score 3-3. On 35 mins following tremendous Newport forward pressure, captain Craig Attwell forced himself over and Hancock converted with an excellent kick from wide out. Newport gave 3 pts back with another Leader penalty and the sides went in at HT with the score 10-6 to the B&A's - a lead they just about deserved not least for good defence and the edge as regards territory. The pack had more than held their own up against essentially a fully professional pack..
A penalty on 48 mins by Leader reduced the score to 10-9 and then with Newport pressing on 60 mins a lapse allowed Connacht to steal around the blind and a near pitch length run and chase enabled speedy wing Matt Healey to score. The conversion was missed but the Eagles led 14-10. The Newport players still believed that they could win and kept fighting and 5 mins later the lead was reduced with a Hancock penalty to 13-14. It looked like Newport were destined to get only a losing bonus but they never stopped moving the ball and an excellent three-quarter move got centre Will Richards into the Connacht 22 and with a determined run he got to the line and was tackled but just managed to get the ball down much to the delight of the home fans. The conversion was missed on 80+1 mins but Newport were not home and dry with a further 10 mins to play. The pack worked well to run the clock down but then gave it away by being penalised. Agonisingly for the home supporters the referee still did not blow up but at least they knew that the visitors had to score a try to win - but it was Newport who almost scored with Awcock's gallant effort. There was still time for a yellow card for Nathan Williams on 80+10 mins. He barely had time to leave the field when referee Greg MacDonald finally blew up.
Newcastle go top of Pool 4 with an easy win over Cross Keys followed by Newport, Connacht and then Cross Keys.
Photos courtesy of Simon Latham and Ron Sutcliffe: