Newport RFC vs Bridgend RFC 29th September 2016 by John Evans
Following two straight wins in the Foster’s Challenge Cup, Newport’s attention turned back to the bread and butter of the Principality Premiership. Newport haven’t received the rewards that their hard work has merited so far this season. It has been noticeable that in cutting out silly mistakes, as so often plagued the Black and Ambers this term, the victories have followed. Supporters, then, were hopeful that the lessons were learned and the push to be in the top eight clubs at the halfway cut-off point this season started with a home win against Bridgend.
It had been a grey morning all across Newport and a fine misty rain had made for a slippery surface at Rodney Parade. Bridgend’s new coach, Matthew Silva, brought his team to Rodney Parade looking for a fourth straight win in all competitions and have beaten our nearest neighbours, Cross Keys and Bedwas, in the league this season.
The Raven’s outside half, Joseph Scrivens, got the game underway with Reuben Tucker receiving and play easing up to the visitor’s ten metre line. The ball was moved wide as Newport looked to attack but it was stopped dead when Raven’s centre Jamie Murphy, formerly of this parish, stole the ball in the tackle to release his team. Quick thinking by Scrivens caught Newport offside and he stepped up to bang the early penalty over to make it 0-3 to Bridgend in two minutes.
From the restart, visiting second row Ashton Evans rose high but spilt the ball forward. Newport whipped the ball across field but the pass out to wing Jon Morris was spilled. Despite Morris knocking on parallel to where Evans’ offence had taken place, the referee, Graham Wells of the Scottish Rugby Union, decided that Newport had advantage enough and awarded Bridgend the scrum put-in. Bridgend took another opportunity to score on six minutes after Tom Riley had been penalised in the tackle area. Scrivens made no mistake to give his team a 0-6 lead.
Newport were getting into good positions and playing with intent but were being let down by a lack of concentration. Jon Morris took an aerial ball spectacularly in the 16th minute and Bridgend couldn’t help but infringe around him. Matt O’Brien opted for the corner but the lineout was horribly overthrown and visitors Tom O’Flaherty and Owain Lloyd combined to carry the ball out of defence to halfway, the move culminating in a Newport lineout on their own 22. Newport battled back and showed good hands from Wes Cunliffe, Tom Riley and Matt O’Brien but, predictably, the ball ended up bouncing forward and Bridgend were allowed to clear.
Newport appeared to have their act together in the 26th minute when Cunliffe powered down the wing with Llywarch ap Myrrdin in support. Cunliffe drew the last defender but the pass right to ‘Larry’ was judged forward. No try.
Bridgend took the game by the scruff of the neck when they scored an opportunist try on the 28th minute. Newport again spilled the ball in attack and Raven’s number 8 Adam O’Driscoll kicked the ball clear. Newport flapped at the ball while Bridgend wing Mike Powell reacted first and made a good, angled run up field. Powell found prop Ollie Evans who stepped through two tackles before passing to Murphy who set up the ruck. The ball was whipped out to Marc Bennett who found gap enough to stretch over and score the try. Joseph Scrivens added the conversion to make it 0-13 on 28 minutes.
A 34th minute penalty attempt by Matt O’Brien drifted wide of the uprights and it was left to Bridgend, and Scrivens, to end the half with another penalty to make it 0-16 on 40+2 minutes.
Halftime – Newport RFC 0 Bridgend RFC 16
Newport were going to have a lot of work to do if they were going to get anything out of the game. They started positively enough with Reuben Tucker prominent. Tucker’s appetite for contact is remarkable, rarely failing to offer himself up as ‘first receiver’ and batter away at the opposition. However, Newport’s task became stiffer on the 49th minute when Mr Wells penalised John Lavender for an offence at the scrum. Scrivens stepped up and made it 0-19 on 49 minutes.
Newport kept attacking and, despite what appeared to be a hand going out to stifle the attack by Joseph Scrivens, Mr Wells, after consulting with his assistant, decided that the offence was only a knock on and it was a Newport scrum. From the scrum, Newport predictably spilled possession and wing Tom O’Flaherty made Chay Smith work hard in defence to smother the ball and secure it for the Black and Ambers. Very little seemed to be working for Newport so Craig Warlow took the step of virtually emptying the bench to see if that could inspire the team. Arwel Robson and Ryan James came on as half-backs while Chris Coleman, Evan Whitson and James Greenfield were a whole new front row.
Bridgend were being very well marshalled by Scrivens and his searching cross-field kick would have been a certain try for wing Mike Powell had the bounce not eluded him. A barrelling run by Wes Cunliffe in the shadow of the Hazell Stand dissolved amid a flurry of bodies and knock-ons.
Joseph Scrivens eventually had to miss one and that came in the 64th minute after Newport had been penalised at the scrum again. The kick was pushed wide. Llywarch ap Myrddin had cause to thank his mates for getting him out of trouble when he inexplicably handled the ball into touch. Luckily, Dan Mock was playing very well and his lineout steal made sure that no further damage was done.
Time was ebbing away for a Black and Amber comeback. A chink of light appeared in the 70th minute when Raven’s replacement Chris Williams was yellow carded for getting caught with his hands in where they shouldn’t be while Newport were attacking in the Bridgend 22. Arwel Robson sniffed the air and found a typically Arwel move was on. A quick tap, elude three or four defenders, run an outlandishly large arc and nonchalantly dab the ball down under the posts. He converted his own try with a drop-kick to make it Newport 7 Bridgend 19 on 72 minutes.
Newport huffed and puffed while trying to make a game of it but Bridgend nearly killed it stone dead when Tom O’Flaherty found Ryan Evans in support but, again, the pass was forward. Joseph Scrivens’ rush to eventually get the ball off the field was notable in that it sealed the fact that Bridgend are a team, and that they are starting to gel. The win was no more than they deserved, they were solid in defence and took their few chances in attack. Well done to them.
Newport are next in action this Thursday, November 3rd, away at the Gnoll where they face Neath RFC in the Principality Premiership.
Come on Newport!
Newport Man Of The Match – Chay Smith
FINAL SCORE _ Newport RFC 7 Bridgend RFC 19