MOM : Brendan Lampitt
In a remarkable turnaround with Newport being completely outplayed and out-scrummaged in the first quarter, the B&A's - fielding 10 players making their debuts - roared to success with a superb 6 try win coming from behind 20-8 down. They now meet local rivals Cross Keys at Pandy Park next Saturday after the Keys scraped home 16-13 in a close fought game against Ebbw Vale.
The first half - especially the first quarter was a nightmare for Newport. Playing up the slope and against the wind they were in trouble from the start with Bedwas dominating possession and looking altogether the much better team. Owen Broad was yellow carded on 5 mins for a deliberate knock-on and the floodgates looked to be open. Richard Powell slotted penalties on 10 and 13 mins for a 6-0 lead. Newport were rarely in the Bedwas 22 but Dan Robinson made a superb break and then against the run of play Nathan Edwards forced his way over on 16 mins with O’Driscoll’s conversion attempt hitting the post but the score was 6-5. Some Newport pressure put Matt O’Brien into a good position and he dropped a neat goal and surprisingly Newport were 8-6 up. This did not last long as Bedwas were back in the Newport 22 and scrum-half Joe Smith was over on 31 mins for Powell to add the extras and make the score 13-8. Just one minute later Bedwas scored again when slack tackling allowed centre Aaron Pinches through - again converted by Powell for a 20-8 lead. Newport were now looking to get a score to reduce the lead at HT and this they did when Geraint O’Driscoll got over for a nice try but again his kick hit the posts. Just before HT Richard Powell missed a drop goal attempt and the sides went in at 20-13 to the home side.
It was a different Newport who came out in the 2nd half and right from the kick off with the wind behind and playing down the slope they were in the Bedwas 22 and Matt O’Brien carved his way over on just 55 secs. O’Driscoll made it 20-20. This was now a different Newport and they were more than holding their own in the scrums and the backs were full of confidence. On 45 mins Will Evans forced his way over for a deserved try and the conversion made the score 20-27 to the visitors. There was a worry for Newport on 50 mins when tight-head Alex Jeffries received a hard knock and went off for blood. Newport needn’t have worried as Liam Jenkins switched to tight-head and James Greenfield came on at loose-head but it was Bedwas who scored next when wing Matthew John got over in the corner but the conversion by Jack Maynard was missed and the score stood at 25-27. Would Newport now let this game slip? Wing Jon Morris provided the answer when on 58 mins and 60 mins he ran in 2 beautiful tries. O’Driscoll’s conversions took the score to 25-41. Surprisingly there were no further scores although the visitors carved some excellent openings from Jamie Murphy and Owen Davies among others and a little more steadiness should have seen a couple more tries.
It was the B&A fans who went home happy and Bedwas to ponder how they came to lose a game which they had so dominated in the 1st quarter but full marks to Newport who not only weathered the storm but came back with some impressive rugby.
No 8 Brendan Lampitt was outstanding even when playing behind a pack going backwards in the first quarter and deserved his MOM award and he was unlucky not to get his first ever try at the Bridge Field. He was closely followed by hooker Will Evans who deservedly got a debut try. In fact all 10 newcomers made their mark. Wing Jon Morris always looked dangerous and ran in 2 tries and it could have been more. Classy centre Nathan Edwards also got a debut try at a time when the B&A’s were struggling big time. Scrum-half Owen Davies fitted in well. Ex-Bedlinog loose-head prop Liam Jenkins stepped up from Division 2 and did a great job even switching to tight-head when needed. Sam Feehan showed all his experience in the back row. 2nd row Dan Partridge replaced Adam Brown in the 2nd half and did well as did back row Sam Cross who showed all his 7s skills when he stalked, covered and then caught Bedwas wing Rory Budina going for a try down the touch line. Jamie Murphy came on and made a superb break which should have led to a try. Codey Rees also came on near the end and did some excellent line kicking fitting in at full back.
Note : 9 of Newport's starting line-up were born in Newport - 6 forwards and 3 backs.
Newport : G O’Driscoll (J Murphy 69), J Morris, N Edwards, D Robinson (C Rees 72), O Broad, M O’Brien, O Davies (A Quick 78), L Jenkins (J Greenfield 70), W Evans (Andrew Brown 75) A Jeffries (J Greenfield 50/66, L Jenkins 82), Adam Brown (D Partridge 65), A Frampton, S Feehan, O Griffiths (capt), B Lampitt (S Cross 65).
Rep not used : E Whitson
Scorers : Tries - N Edwards, G O’Driscoll, M O’Brien, W Evans, J Morris (2) and M O’Brien 1 dg, G O’Driscoll 4c.
YC : O Broad 5/13,. Referee : Leighton Hodges
Photos courtesy of Ron Sutcliffe :