Photos courtesy of Ron Sutcliffe and Simon Latham :
“ABSOLUTELY diabolical” was how Newport head coach Sven Cronk summed up his team’s second- half display which saw them contrive to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory, eventually going down 27-34 against Bridgend. Leading 27-10 at the interval, Newport seemed set to record a comfortable sixth Principality Premiership win of the season and to avenge their 42-35 loss at the Brewery Field last October. But the Ravens cashed in on a series of bungling Newport errors – particularly at the lineout – to rattle up 24 points without reply after the break.
“We totally imploded in the second half and were absolutely diabolical in all aspects of our game,” said Cronk. “Bridgend were there for the taking and we completely blew it. I thought we were quite clinical in the opening half but some of our decision-making and what we did in the later stages was dire,” he added.
Despite conceding an early penalty goal the home side levelled the scores midway through the half and then took command, with full back Geraint O’Driscoll, wing forward Craig Attwell, centre Daniel Robinson and left wing Elliot Frewen all crossing for tries. O’Driscoll kicked a 19th min penalty goal and he and outside-half Tom Hancock each added a conversion. Bridgend must have had quite a pep talk at half-time because they looked far more determined after the restart – not least in their superior scrummaging. In contrast, Newport stuttered and stumbled and then handed the visitors some gift tries because of overthrowing the ball to the back of lineouts near their line. Bridgend’s points came from a Scott Hicks 24th- minute try followed by further touchdowns from Lloyd Evans and left wing Glen Lewis (2). Impressive outside-half Lewis K Williams kicked two penalties and four conversions but he also kept his side on the front foot in the crucial closing stages. The visitors’ last two tries came after Newport prop and captain Gethin Robinson was sent off in the 69th min after receiving a second yellow card from referee Rhys Thomas. Robinson, along with fellow hooker Ryan Prosser and Bridgend’s Jonny Thomas and Shaun O’Rouke, was sent to the sin bin in the 36th min after an off-the-ball skirmish.