Chris Kirwan, SWA writes :
NEWPORT endured a miserable afternoon at St Helen’s after being comprehensively outplayed by Premiership basement outfit Swansea. The Black and Ambers headed into the game on the back of a 10-try drubbing of Carmarthen Quins but never looked like crossing the whitewash against a side that have shipped 75 tries this season. They weren’t helped by the rain teeming down throughout or an infuriating refereeing performance by Ben Whitehouse, son of former Test official Nigel, but that shouldn’t mask their shortcomings.
“It was inept, we’ve struggled all season with a lack of rugby nous and it is still haunting us,” said head coach Sven Cronk. “We have no idea how to play into a wind or when the rain is lashing down. Lack of control and the pack didn’t get off their feet urgently enough to offer themselves. We were awful.”
The start of the game was scrappy, not helped either by the terrible conditions or Newport’s indiscipline. Mr Whitehouse was pernickety and would give Craig Joubert a run for his money in terms of frequent whistling. The scrum commands seemed to be a mess and the set piece was reminiscent of the farcical Six Nations game between Scotland and Wales. That being said, the Black and Ambers also gave him plenty of opportunities to stop play. Swansea full-back Nicky Thomas booted his side into a 6-0 lead and missed with another pair of long-range efforts. Playing into the breeze, Newport struggled to get a foothold in the game and were bossed territorially. It came as no surprise when strong-running Swansea number eight Dan Baker, who the visitors struggled to get to grips with all afternoon, barged over from a scrum after 24 minutes to make it 11-0. But then Newport, with teenage openside Oli Griffiths outstanding, started to enjoy dominance of possession. However, they were a touch too lateral and would have been disappointed to have only mustered a solitary Geraint O’Driscoll penalty before the break.
The hope was that, with the wind at their backs, the visitors would turn the screw on the Whites in the second. Alas, they failed to put their struggling hosts under pressure because of a poor kicking game and an infuriating inability to adapt to the shocking conditions. Newport ultimately paid the price for a pair of sin-binnings with locks Brendan Lampitt and Jamie Sullivan both seeing yellow. Both looked unfortunate, the former being sent to the sidelines following a scuffle prompted by a legitimate Griffiths tackle that was bizarrely penalised while the latter’s was for a breakdown offence 40 metres out.
Playing a quarter of the game down to 14 hindered Newport’s bid to get back into the game, but their tactics also played their part. Newport centre O’Driscoll kicked two penalties but Swansea fly-half Luke Price also struck a brace and it was 17-9 after 66 minutes. And it was game over with three minutes left when a shocking Tom Hancock pass behind his lined-up three-quarters was hacked on for wing Andrew Claypole to dot down. It was a score down to Newport incompetence; a fitting way to finish.Argus MOM : Ollie Griffiths