MOBY KNOCKS DOWN BRIDGEMEN WITH LAST KICK
If there’s ever a player you’d want on your team to take your penalty with the last kick of the game, who would it be? Jonny Wilkinson? Dan Carter? Shane Howarth? Newport had the luxury of turning to outside-half, Matt O’Brien, sometimes labelled “the puppetmaster” for his high-scoring games and ability to dictate games in that number 10 jersey. And what a kick that turned out to be.
The Black & Ambers started the game well; Seren y Gêm, Owen Davies, found a gap in the Bedwas defence and raced over to touch down under the sticks within the first 2 minutes. Matt O’Brien added his first points of the game. Soon after, it was the turn of ex-Dragons outside-half, Steffan Jones, to find a gap in the home backline putting through Mike Callow, via Aaron Bramwell, for a try of their own. With some luck with the posts, Bedwas levelled the scores.
This encounter was proving to be an interesting battle between number 10s, with “Moby” proving whatever Jones could do in the September reverse fixture, he could do this evening. With barely 10 minutes on the clock and the B&As in the opponents’ 22, his cross-kick towards the barn corner found Haydn Palmer in acres of space, with the winger merely having to catch the ball and fall over in the end zone to put the home side in front again.
Palmer was close to running away for a possible chance at a second after Owen Davies sought him a gap on the wing, but the Bridgemen did enough to marginally force him into touch. That led to a short spell of away pressure which ended with a Geraint Edwards try on the 20-minute mark. Jones’ conversion gave them the lead for the first time.
Both Jones and O’Brien exchanged penalties before a great tackle from Corey Howells after an up-and-under gave “Moby” a 50-metre shot a goal shortly before the interval. The attempt however fell just short.
HALF-TIME: Newport 15-17 Bedwas
Bedwas started the second period as Newport started the first: Steffan Jones took advantage of some poor defending and put in flanker, George Lee, to give them a 7-point lead.
O’Brien, an avid Newcastle United fan, then showed off some skills with his feet which would have dazzled the St James’ Park faithful! His dynamic dribbling through a bunch of Bedwas defenders led to a Newport penalty for an off-the-ball obstruction, however nothing came of it. Owen Davies, who had a simply flawless game, found a space soon after and sprinted towards to posts and a little help from Chay Smith, and the post pads, brought the scores level again.
A Ken Dowding yellow card on his first appearance for the B&As gave the Bridgemen a chance to capitalise and they had a few chances to put some points on the board. Their best one came when number 8, Andrew Waite, beat a handful of defenders only to fall short and see a knock-on conceded by his team-mate as his side had an shot at getting into the corner. Newport prevailed and kept the scores at 22-22 during those 10 minutes.
With 10 minutes to go, Newport were awarded a penalty around 30 metres away from goal. O’Brien did his thing and gave his side the lead again, but as the clock nervously ticked down, Bedwas were given a few penalties well within kicking range. Optimistically, they went for touch on a couple of occasions before settling for a kick at goal, which Steffan Jones easily slotted over in front of the posts.
The clock was ticking dangerously over the 80-minute mark, and with surely not much injury time to play, the referee awarded a penalty to Newport after superb pressure from the hosts and a determination not to give in. From around 40 metres from goal, with the backroom staff anxiously watching behind, up stepped Matt O’Brien to slot over the last kick of the game and give the Black & Ambers an ugly, but hard-fought victory over a decent top-of-the-table Bedwas side.
The Eastern Conference was always going to be testing for all involved, and Pontypridd away next Saturday (11th, at 1pm) is sure to be another tough task. But Newport have had some impressive victories this season, including Ponty at home, and have cemented themselves in 5th place for the time, above so-called “Gwent rivals”, Ebbw Vale, Bargoed and Cross Keys.
FINAL SCORE: Newport 28-25 Bedwas
SEREN Y GÊM: Owen Davies
#COTP #YmlaenCasnewyddMatch pictures from Simon Latham: https://simonlatham.smugmug.com/17-11-03-Newport-v-Bedwas/