Photos courtesy of Ron Sutcliffe and Simon Latham :
The Black & Ambers wrapped up their home fixtures in style with a convincing win over Welsh Cup semi-finalists Carmarthen Quins. On a firm pitch under spring sunshine they ran in 10 tries - 9 converted which equalled their Premier record of 9 vs Cross Keys (1999/0) and Llandovery 2006/7. It wasn't quite Newport's record Premier League win which stands at 76-17 vs Dunvant in 1999/0.
Man of Match was Andrew Brown who said his farewell to Rodney Parade as he has decided to retire at the end of the season. Will this be an end to the Newport front row of Dai Pattison, Andrew Brown and Gethin Robinson who made their 66th start together in the Premier League - easily a record. Interestingly the next best front row combination for Newport is 21 for Rod Snow, Ian Jones and current head coach Sven Cronk. They have started in 83 official matches in total - only beaten by John Rawlins, Mike Watkins and Rhys Morgan with 95 - and have played many more times together during a match.
Winger Elliot Frewen ran in 2 tries to go top of Premier League try scorers with 12. He has also scored 2 other tries this season in Cup competitions.
Chris Kirwan SWA writes :
It may have been a free-flowing game played in the sun, featuring 15 tries and some dazzling attacking play, yet Newport versus Carmarthen Quins was all about a front row forward. Hooker Andrew Brown donned the black and amber for the last time at Rodney Parade and his team mates ensured it was an occasion to remember. The 30-year-old led the team out on his 247th appearance for the club and it clearly inspired the hosts, who made a sensational start. They crossed the whitewash three times in the first eight minutes and had their bonus point after a half hour. They went on to crush Carmarthen Quins 74-33, running in ten tries in an astonishing performance.
“To win was nice and then to have a scoreboard like that was a real bonus,” said former captain Brown, who is hanging up his boots to spend more time with his children Evan (who was mascot on Saturday) and Ellie. “I owe this club so much but it was a decision that I had to make – I’m feeling the bumps and younger players have started to run rings around me!
“I didn’t quite manage to get over for one last try here but you can’t have everything and I am more than happy to end with a win. It was an emotional day and a nice way to bow out at Rodney Parade... but it’s not over yet, I’ve got three more games left to go.”
It’s been a frustratingly inconsistent season for the Black and Ambers who will be looking at the Premiership table and regretting some horror displays. On Saturday they showed how dangerous they can be with some exceptional scores against an admittedly woeful Quins side. At times the frequency of scoring was of farcical Super Rugby standards and both sides didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory with their defensive work. But some of the tries were marvellous and Newport possess a host of threats among their three-quarters. Yet the ease with which they crossed the whitewash was down to a tenacious and aggressive opening. They didn’t give the Quins a sniff thanks to a rapid start that saw them fly out of the blocks on the B of the bang.
The key figure was physical, abrasive Newport Gwent Dragons openside Darren Waters, who showed signs of being back to his best following an injury-ravaged season. His steal allowed back row colleague Brendon Lampitt to start the scoring after just 75 seconds. And he was at the heart of the Black and Ambers’ breakdown work that led to turnover ball, allowing centre Dom Franchi and wing Owen Broad to score breakaway tries after three and eight minutes respectively. It may have been 19-0 but Newport captain Gethin Robinson showed clear thinking to instruct Geraint O’Driscoll to go for the sticks with a pair of penalties on 17 and 22 minutes – there was no need to go desperately chasing the bonus point so early. That served to break the Quins’ spirit and although scrum-half Connor Lloyd got the visitors on the scoreboard with a fine individual score, the five points were in the bag for the hosts on the half hour. Full-back Alan Awcock can claim an assist for a marvellous 50-metre touchfinder that put the visitors close to their line and it was that man Waters who benefited from an overthrown lineout. Newport didn’t switch off and the scores kept coming thanks to good decision-making and good execution. They made the game look easy and retained the ball well, something that they haven’t always managed this term.
Wing Elliot Frewen (2), Awcock (2), Franchi and Broad all went over while the Quins got a bonus point that their performance didn’t deserve thanks to four more of their own, lock Carwyn Jones, fly-half Dan Newton, centre Alex Pickersgill and flanker Rory Gallagher their scorers.
But, with the game long over as a contest, the highlight for many of the home faithful came with 20 minutes remaining when they rose to their feet to applaud Brown as he headed to the touchline to be replaced. Greeting him at the dugout were props Robinson and Dai Patti-son, two men the hooker has spent nine seasons in between. The partners in crime look like they intend to make the most of their final three away days together.