Newport: J Leadbeater, E Frewen (O Broad 70), G O’Driscoll, A Davies (D Franchi 61), A Hewitt, S Sneddon, R Downes (A Quick 56), D Pattison, R Prosser, G Robinson (capt) (J Jeune 40 HT) D Rosser (L Randall 55), A Frampton, B Lampitt (A Brown 63), C Attwell (O Griffiths 43), C Everett.
Newport scorers: Try – Craig Everett and Scott Sneddon 1c, 1p. Yellow cards : A Hewitt 57 / 70 and A Quick 73.
Newcastle Falcons: J Gopperth, L Fielden, S Hufanga J Fitzpatrick 73), J Helleur (capt), A Higgins, J Hodgson, R Lawson (W Fury 58), G Shiells (O Tomaszczyk 80), M Mayhew (M Thompson 58), S Wilson, S Tomes, J Goode (O Tomaszczyk 74/79), C York (M Wilson 58), R Mayhew, T Tu’ifua. Reps: W Luveniyali (not used).
Newcastle scorers: Tries – Richard Mayhew, Penalty Try, Jimmy Gopperth (2) and Joel Hodgson 3c. Yellow card : S Wilson 68/79
Referee: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland)
Newport MOM : Ryan Prosser
Photos courtesy of Ron Sutcliffe and Simon Latham :
Iwan Davies, SWA writes :
Newport head coach Sven Cronk spoke of the immense pride he felt in his players after their magnificent performance against Newcastle’s full-time professionals. Under the tutelage of a two-times Heineken Cup winning coach in England legend Dean Richards, the Falcons have laid waste to virtually everyone they’ve played this season. But that wasn’t the story at Rodney Parade, the Black and Ambers even getting one over them in the second half, becoming the only side to outscore them after the interval this season, and ‘nilling’ them at that. For at half-time, Newcastle were cruising, 26-3 up and showing the kind of form that means only a miracle will prevent them making an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership after relegation last season. But Newport dug in deep to win the second 40 mins 7-0, thanks to No 8 Craig Everett’s converted try and the kind of fighting spirit to warm the cockles on a bitterly cold afternoon at the famous old ground. In praising his troops, Cronk pointed out the disparity of wealth and circumstances between the two sides. “I’m immensely proud of them – they are several levels up from us aren’t they?” he said. “To have won the second half with that kind of performance will give us so much confidence. I don’t think the scoreboard reflected the game. They did hurt us when they got going but we didn’t allow them many opportunities to be able to do that.” Cronk believes Newport can use this as a springboard for the rest of the season. There were bags of endeavour and enthusiasm out there and that will stand us in good stead going forward,” he added. “The boys really stuck at it and it was a huge defensive effort.” Richards also took off his hat to Newport and thinks his side have some work to do before the return fixture at Kingston Park on Sunday. “It was a tough game but the boys enjoyed it,” he said. “Newport are a good side with some good players. There are some things that we’ve got to work on and address over the next few days.”
Newport made a lively start, taking the game to the Falcons, putting them under early pressure at the scrum. Their tighthead and captain Gethin Robinson was impressive after three months on the sidelines with a torn bicep. The Black and Ambers’ commitment was typified early on when fly half Scott Sneddon put in a crunching tackle on powerful Tonga international centre Suka Hufanga, who played for his country in their historic victory over Scotland last month, which saw him knock on. Newport’s determined resistance first cracked when Newcastle openside Richard Mayhew touched down for an unconverted try after 15 mins, the Championship side patiently going through several phases from halfway before scoring. But the home side didn’t back down and Sneddon reduced the deficit with a penalty after he was the victim of a high tackle. That was cancelled out almost immediately when Newcastle’s ambition paid off, spurning a kickable penalty in the 27th min, they opted for a catch and drive lineout which yielded a penalty try that outside half Joel Hodgson converted to give them a 12-3 lead. The English side’s superior physicality and fitness began to tell towards the end of the first half, full back Jimmy Gopperth crossing in the corner as Newcastle exploited an overlap and Hodgson’s fine conversion rubbing salt in the wound. Newcastle upped a gear again and Gopperth crossed for his second try on the stroke of half-time, Hodgson’s conversion making it 26-3 at the interval. Newport fans must have feared the worst but their side showed remarkable character in the second half and were rewarded for their determination when No 8t Everett crashed over in the 42nd min after the hosts hammered away at the Falcons’ try line. Sneddon’s beautifully struck conversion brought it back to 26-10. Newport never gave up, and despite having wing Ashton Hewitt and replacement scrum half Andrew Quick yellow carded, were more than a match for the invincible Falcons in the second half who made it 14 wins out 14 for this season.