Our near neighbours from up the A468 were the visitors to Rodney Parade on this occasion. The ground staff at the club had done a super job in turning the pitch around, not just once, but twice after Newport Gwent Dragons had played on Friday evening and Newport County on Saturday afternoon. So, it was left until the Sunday for Newport RFC to complete a busy sporting weekend on the field.
At 2.34pm, Bedwas outside half Richard Powell kicked off towards the clubhouse end. The visitors were probing the Newport defence from the outset but only spoiled their good work with silly mistakes. A promising position was given up after the hooker delayed the put-in at a line out.
A Newport penalty from a scrum saw them into the Bedwas half of the field. A clean take by Dan Partridge at the line out ensured good Newport possession but Bedwas effectively defended and Newport were left to move the ball side to side to look for an opening. Scrum half Owen Davies chipped the ball ahead and the luck of the bounce went Newport’s way as Bedwas full back Aaron Bramwell spilled the ball into touch. Clean line out ball was won again but the ball was lost in contact. Bedwas relieved the pressure with a spell of neat interpassing which ended with a punt to the corner getting them to Newport 5 metre line. A threatening visitor’s attack was only cancelled out by a despairing hand from John Lavender. From the ensuing scrum Newport were penalised. Bedwas’ number 8, James Benjamin, playing on permit from his parent team Newport Gwent Dragons, was agile enough in thought to take a quick tap, pass to his colleague, flanker George Lee who spun through tackles to score his team’s first try. Richard Powell duly converted to make it Newport 0 Bedwas 7 on 10 minutes.
Bedwas were full of attack and were looking after the ball very well. A string of moves were only cancelled out by an errant pass ending up in Dan Partridge’s hands. The ball was spun out to Ashton Hewitt, another Newport Gwent Dragon playing on permit, who cleared the Newport lines effectively.
Newport’s first score came on 19 minutes when outside half Arwel Robson kicked a penalty after the Bedwas scrum had been judged to have offended again. This made the score Newport 3 Bedwas 7.
The Bedwas marauders kept on. A probing kick seemed to have been mopped up by Newport but the black shirts swamped the situation and effectively retrieved the ball. The ball quickly went left toward the Hazell stand but was spoiled when Bedwas’ Richard Powell knocked on.
Newport saw a chink of light on 24 minutes when a loose ball ended up with Tom Riley making good ground. A pass on to Arwel Robson carried the move on but the final pass was loose and a Bedwas hand stopped the flow. Bedwas winger Tom Prydie, the former Welsh International also on permit from Newport Gwent Dragons, was then gently manoeuvred into touch by Reuben Tucker. However, the referee deemed it enough to concede a penalty and Newport were defending again.
A series of strong phases saw Bedwas get within millimetres of the Newport line but, thankfully, the scramble defence was effective enough to stop them. The visitors were opting for the scrum instead of the penalty, sniffing blood, but each time the scrum went through ninety degrees. Bedwas were turning the screw but let Newport off the hook when George Lee knocked on with the line at his mercy.
However, the referee, Mr Gareth Newman, saw something not to his liking at the next scrum, and Bedwas’ loose head prop, Dan Preece, was shown the yellow card. Crucially, the penalty missed touch and, in the phases that followed, Newport were penalised for entering a ruck at the side. Bedwas’ Richard Powell made no mistake with his kick to make the score Newport 3 Bedwas 10 on 34 minutes.
Bedwas kept attacking but what was less of a tackle and more of a judo throw by Rhodri Jones proved important. Bedwas’ move was halted and Newport did some ball stripping of their own. The pass out to Geraint O’Driscoll and on to Arwel Robson saw Newport attempt to run the ball out from under their own posts. Robson was hauled down but the ball was passed wide to Ashton Hewitt who carried on the charge. Hewitt, too, was caught but Bedwas were over enthusiastic at the ruck and were penalised. Another ten metres were awarded when Bedwas were found to be ‘chopsing’. The line out following the kick to the corner was won cleanly and Robson chose the angled pass to Ashton Hewitt sprinting through but, again, the last pass to flanker Kyle Tayler was loose. Newport retrieved the situation when Rhodri Jones and Henry Palmer broke the Bedwas line but a desperate tackle on John Lavender by Richard Powell saw Mr. Newman reach for his yellow card once more. Arwel Robson converted the penalty to make it Newport 6 Bedwas 10 on 40 + 3 minutes.
Halftime – Newport RFC 6 Bedwas RFC 10
Arwel Robson restarted the game with only the one substitution, Chay Smith on for Ashton Hewitt.
Bedwas were defiant. It would seem that their halftime instructions from their coach, Steve Law, was to suffocate Newport, deny them the oxygen of possession, and they carried this out very well. Newport would have to live off scraps. Bedwas’ defence was reasonably solid and, even with their playmaker, Powell, off the field, did enough to make life uncomfortable for the Black and Ambers.
Bedwas won a penalty after Elliot Frewen was penalised for an intentional knock-on. The ensuing line out was loose and Tom Riley carried the ball out of danger before passing to Chay Smith who was hauled down on the halfway line. The ball went back to Riley who placed an accurate kick into the Bedwas 22. Bedwas knocked on in the line out and Newport were awarded the scrum. A promising attack was stopped when that last pass, again, went loose. Bedwas played advantage but lost the ball when a shuddering tackle from replacement Adam Brown dislodged the ball. Bedwas were then penalised for blocking Henry Palmer as he attempted to scoop the ball up. Arwel Robson did the honours to make it Newport 9 Bedwas 10 on 52 minutes.
Newport soon went ahead. Having to live off scraps seemed to be paying dividends as Newport were having to make correct decisions, in contrast to the Cardiff game where a glut of possession seemed to lead to poor decision-making. Reuben Tucker smashed his way upfield before being tackled but Bedwas flanker George Lee couldn’t resist getting his hands on the ball when he had no right to. Arwel Robson duly slotted the ball over to make it Newport 12 Bedwas 10 on 56 minutes.
Bedwas got their noses in front again on 64 minutes when Newport were penalised and Richard Powell made no mistake in making it Newport 12 Bedwas 13.
The Bedwas scrum wasn’t having the most comfortable of afternoons and they were penalised again on 69 minutes. The penalty attempt that followed by Arwel Thomas bounced off the left hand upright and back into play. The quick thinking by Bedwas found where the Newport cover was thinnest and went for it. Elusive running by substitute wing Phillip Pariyo set off the panic alarm in the Black and Amber defence but the ominous attack was completed when a close range thrust by second row Robson Blake saw him crash over, Richard Powell adding the extras to make it Newport 12 Bedwas 20 on 74 minutes.
There was no way back for Newport. A late yellow card for Bedwas’ Rhys Verley, for a shoulder charge on Matt O’Brien, came to nothing as the line out from the kick was overthrown and ended up in black-shirted arms. When Newport were awarded a late, late scrum they blew it by being penalised for turning it through ninety degrees. And that was that. The referee played five minutes of added time but still Newport couldn’t find a way through.
It was a disappointing performance for sure. To not score a try was one thing, but to hardly get inside the opposition 22 with any real intent was quite another. The sheer amount of forced passes and loose final passes would have made the coaches frustrated. And it doesn’t get any easier as next Saturday, Newport RFC travel to the reigning league champions, Ebbw Vale RFC, at Eugene Cross Park where a whole new set of problems await. This means it’s absolutely the perfect occasion to get the season off to a start and show what our talented group of players can do when the pressure is on.
Come on Newport!
Newport Man Of The Match – Kyle Tayler
FINAL SCORE _ Newport RFC 12 Bedwas RFC 20