With all the excitement surrounding the club currently it may be forgivable for us supporters to become a little too distracted by the lure of a cup final. However, there is still a league to concentrate on! Luckily, our coaching team have kept the squad grounded and reminded them that there is still plenty of tough tests in this seasons Principality Premiership, not least the visit of Bargoed RFC to Rodney Parade. On their last visit to our home ground Bargoed came away with the spoils by playing a simple game very well, and capitalised on some catastrophic blunders by the Black and Ambers on the day. The team that started tonight was one that rotated the squad while having enough firepower to test the visitors.
Geraint O’Driscoll, starting at fullback, kicked off and the referee, Mr Ben Breakspear, instantly spotted some Black and Amber over-enthusiasm as somebody had strayed offside at the first kick of the game. The resulting scrum over the centre spot was reset after it had wheeled and Newport were then penalised as the scrum collapsed. Bargoed aimed for touch to give their big forwards a platform. Bargoed second row Matt Thomas took the ball in mid-air to set up the maul. Thomas himself had extricated himself from the maul to take the ball into contact and set up a ruck which fed outside half Calum Jones who made a super pass to find Dwayne Dyer coming on at pace. Dyer sprinted up towards the Newport line but his pass out of the tackle was spooned forward and Newport were, seemingly, off the hook. Mr Breakspear found fault with the Newport defensive scrum five and Bargoed looked to exploit the confusion by taking the quick tapped penalty. They moved the ball right only for Mr Breakspear to judge Newport offside in defence. Bargoed opted to kick the goal and fullback Matthew Lewis did the honours making the score Newport 0 Bargoed 3 with five minutes played.
Newport replied with some good dynamic driving by hooker Will Evans who set up a ruck. The ball was played back to O’Driscoll who lofted a high kick which improved when it was knocked on as it was caught by a blue and white shirt. Bargoed’s Matt Thomas managed to stray offside at the same time while Alex Everett was scrabbling around claiming possession for the Black and Ambers. John Lavender barged his way along the right then it was Dan Partridge’s turn for a gallop with the ball in hand. Mr Breakspear concluded that enough advantage had not been accrued by Newport RFC so took them back for Thomas’ offside. Sadly Geraint O’Driscoll’s penalty kick sailed right of the posts.
A 12th minute scrum was well driven by Newport but the left-handed wheel to it did Ryan James no favours. Bargoed scrum half James Pizey scooped up the ball and found the gap that James had been pulled away from. Pizey found the flying Dwayne Dyer who bullocked his way towards the Newport forty metre line before being hauled down. Bargoed’s Calum Jones put in a cross kick to attempt to release winger Ash Norton but it was too high for him and the ball sailed harmlessly in to touch.
Haydn Palmer, in the centre for Newport, charged down a fifteenth minute clearance attempt which second row Joe Bartlett secured and passed to Geraint O’Driscoll. The ball moved on to Tom Pascoe who put it a great kick which came to rest on the axis of the five-metre lines at the school end of the Bisley Stand. Bargoed’s clearance was rushed and handed Newport a line out on their 22 metre line. Mr Breakspear saw a Bargoed penalty offence in the melee but O’Driscoll’s shot at goal drifted wide again.
Bargoed conceded at 19th minute penalty for a high tackle which Geraint O’Driscoll sent to nearly fifteen metres out. A solid rolling maul was carried out which Bargoed flanker Grant Rogers made worse for his team by entering from the side. O’Driscoll put the ball bang in the corner with this penalty. Dan Partridge caught the throw and set up the maul for John Lavender to latch on and then break left but the referee couldn’t see a clear grounding to award the try. Newport kept up the pressure with an attacking scrum five. Newport played the ball right and Alex Everett physically crossed the line this time but he, too, was held up. The scrum was set again and the Newport pack drove hard. The set piece began to crab left and with the ball at Alex Everett’s feet and, as Everett was thinking about picking the ball up and scoring, Mr Breakspear whistled to set the scrum again.
Mr Breakspear clearly had more patience with this situation than many of the Black and Amber supporters who were approaching apoplexy. Eventually, on 25 minutes, he reached for his pocket to yellow card captain Rhys Morgan, the loosehead prop, whose antics of whom he had grown tired. The resulting scrum had an air of inevitability about it as Newport surged forward and Mr Breakspear ran under the crossbar, arm aloft, signifying a penalty try. Newport 7 Bargoed 3.
A Bargoed line out was not thrown in straight but it was Newport that conceded the penalty some 42 metres out. Bargoed’s Calum Jones took the shot at goal but his kick was well short. Tom Pascoe caught the kick and returned it, with interest, up to the halfway line. Newport went sniffing for the natural overlap. Good running from Haydn Simons drew his defender before he passed to Joe Bartlett whose simple pass put Jonny Morris away to sprint home from the 22 metre line. The conversion dropped short so the score now was Newport 12 Bargoed 3 with 33 minutes played.
Newport were full of confidence now, almost champagne rugby which drew appreciative applause from the crowd. A flick behind Tom Pascoe’s back, a line break and soft hands from Joe Bartlett and a one-handed pass from Alex Everett only ended when Jonny Morris was hauled down as he was trying to make a one-handed pass himself. Newport were sharper in thought and deed as the ball was whipped away from situations with dizzying speed.
Bargoed did try to impose themselves before the break but lost the ball in contact which Newport looked to capitalise on with some daring running out of defence but the half petered out to its natural conclusion.
Halftime – Newport RFC 12 Bargoed RFC 3
Bargoed’s Calum Jones restarted the game with a kick that Dan Partridge caught cleanly. Newport worked the ball left to Haydn Simons whose long grubber kick infield had Bargoed fullback Matthew Lewis scrambling to cover as Jon Morris, Adam Sabri and Haydn Palmer all chased it down. The clearing kick went straight to the chest of Newport flanker Joe Cullimore who drove forward before setting up a ruck. Newport contrived to lose possession from the pass out and Bargoed replied by driving up as far as halfway before Newport conceded a penalty. Bargoed opted to kick for touch in the Newport 22 metre area and, briefly, threatened but the Newport defensive resolve stiffened as ball-carriers were driven backwards and attacking runners became more static. Eventually Dan Partridge managed to wrestle a ball away before running a few metres and then slamming a kick upfield which gave Bargoed a line out in their own 22. The line out was won but Bargoed managed to self-inflict wounds as the ball was passed sloppily across the line which resulted in an attacking Newport lineout on the Bisley Stand side. Dan Partridge rose highest again before setting up a rolling maul on replacement flanker Morgan Burgess. The whole lot got within inches of the Bargoed line before Lennon Greggains broke right to go for the try but he was just short. Ryan James, always aware at scrum half, fired out a quick, flat pass to Jonny Morris on the right to dive across the line for his second try of the night. The conversion was missed so the score now was Newport 17 Bargoed 3 on 48 minutes.
Bargoed drove at Newport again but lost the ball in contact once more. Geraint O’Driscoll found Lennon Greggains in support who unsubtly walloped the ball up field for the Black and Amber speedsters to chase. Newport threatened from that position but Mr Breakspear noted a Black and Amber arm pulling back the jersey of a defender so the position was conceded.
Bargoed were having trouble exiting their own half as John Lavender stepped up a stripped a ball from a maul but the speed and height of the pass to Adam Sabri appeared to surprise him and the ball was knocked on.
Bargoed did get back in the Newport half on 61 minutes when they kicked a penalty up into Newport’s 22 metre area. Sadly for them their line out ploy of have two ‘pods’ shuffling around each other appeared to fool their hooker the most as the ball was overthrown for Alex Everett to pounce on first and relieve any possible danger.
A powerful 67th minute scrum shoved Bargoed backwards at a rate of knots drawing a penalty award from Mr Breakspear. Matt O’Brien, a replacement at ten for Haydn Simons, booted Newport up to the Bargoed 22. With the line out ball by Joe Bartlett the Newport pack executed a fantastic rolling maul the length of the 22 metre area before it halted on the try line. Owen Davies, on as a replacement at scrum half, picked out Bartlett again on his left who crashed over to secure Newport’s bonus point try. Joe Bartlett is having a terrific season with Newport RFC and has developed as a player remarkably, putting one in mind of Gareth Taylor and that, in itself, is a compliment. Matt O’Brien eased the conversion over the crossbar to make the score Newport 24 Bargoed 3.
Newport had become dominant in all facets, O’Brien’s natural exuberant play complimenting the solid foundation already laid by Haydn Simons. Chip kicks were going to hand, even more gaps were being found whilst O’Brien would run against the grain, so to speak, and loop back towards his forwards for protection when there was nothing on. At one point O’Brien audibly called Jonny Morris onto a switch pass which Morris obligingly took before hitting two blue and white shirts, almost as if O’Brien were saying “here, you have this ball while I think for a second!” Lennon Greggains was launched at the Bargoed line, breaking through some tired tackles, but was held up short of the line. Newport kept up the pressure and a slide-rule kick by Owen Davies rolled into touch just inches away from the corner flag under the Bisley Suite. Bargoed won their own line out ball but the clearing kick hardly moved them any further forward at all. Newport secured possession and began another powerful rolling maul up to the line. Owen Davies opted to go left again only this time it was hooker Henry Palmer on hand to score rather than Joe Bartlett. The conversion sailed wide as the final whistle blew on a satisfying evening’s work for Newport RFC.
Newport RFC are next in action on Saturday 21st April when they visit Aberavon RFC in a Principality Premiership fixture. This will be another tough fixture for our squad as, you can guarantee, our hosts will be targeting the visit of Newport as a “possible”. They were unlucky not to get more out of Pontypridd in their last game and will be focussed on getting a result on their own patch.
After that is the National Cup final against Merthyr RFC. This takes place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Sunday August 29th kicking off at 5.35pm. Tickets will be available from the club next week but details are still sketchy. Please keep in touch with the club to find out more as sales via Newport RFC directly benefit our club.
It was pointed out that Newport RFC are still in contention for a league and cup double, however unlikely that may seem. What an exciting time to be a Black and Amber!
Onwards and upwards, Newport, onwards and upwards.
Come on Newport! #cotp
Newport Man Of The Match – Jonny Morris
FINAL SCORE _ Newport RFC 29 Bargoed RFC 3