2 games, 2 wins, 2 bonus points. The Black & Ambers have started this season in the best possible way and this was another fine victory for Craig Warlow and his team.
A well-recruited Bargoed side came to visit this afternoon in what was the first game of the season at the Theatre of Dreams, otherwise known as Rodney Parade. Many of the B&A faithful arrived early to collect their season tickets for yet another campaign, others were first timers, and on what we’ve seen so far, they will certainly get their money’s worth over the next 8 months.
Newport hadn’t won at Rodney Parade since last April, 9 days before the Cup final in the capital. This turned out to be our last victory of the season too. The opponents that day? Bargoed. But after their first ever win at our historic ground last October, they were eager to make their mark on this occasion too.
Rhys Jenkins soon found out the hard way, being forced off with a blood injury after just 2 minutes, before 15 had elapsed and the score stood at 6-6. Both Matt O’Brien and Bargoed’s Josh Prosser slotted over 2 penalties each in what was a perfect game for the two number 10s from the boot.
O’Brien, whose brother Loui was drafted into the Wales 7s squad this week, created a few chances for the B&As, most notably when his flat pass opened up a gap for Tom Pascoe to explore the Bargoed defence, but a knock-on ended any hopes of an attack.
However, soon after, O’Brien pounced on an opportunity to intercept an attack by the ‘Bulls’ and put in Jonny Morris who scored the first of 8 tries during this clash.
Another chance came Newport’s way as some great teamwork by the backs created some space for another attack. Elliot Frewen, of all people, couldn’t keep the ball in hands and fumbled.
Throughout this game, penalties were flying left and centre from referee, Jason Beasant[RJ1] , and one of those was converted into another 3 points for O’Brien, before his inside pass to Frewen fed Chay Smith who crossed over for a try on his 50th appearance in Black & Amber.
The Newport defensive door was still firmly shut, and Bargoed had to settle for another penalty before the half-time whistle to settle for just a 14-point deficit going into the changing rooms.
HALF TIME: B&As 23-9 Bargoed
Some familiar faces to B&A fans came to prominence in the second half. John Lavender, who tore up many a front row in a Newport jersey, was on the end of a catch and drive to put Bargoed, who he rejoined in the summer, back in the game. But then his fellow prop, Nicky Thomas, who played a big part in our campaign to reach the Cup final last year, was ordered to take a 10-minute timeout for an infringement in the ruck.
Bargoed were made to pay as the home side got a third try when a heroic drive was finished by Matthew ‘Wibble’ Reed, and soon after, the bonus point was secured when Frewen finished another great bit of teamwork with some exciting passing. One to watch out for Try of the Week perhaps.
We then got our first glimpse of the season of the ever-present, Geraint O’Driscoll, who married our new physio, Emily, over the summer and spent what seemed like a lifetime of a honeymoon! “God” begins his seventh season with the B&As and nears ever closer to 150 appearances.
Any hopes of another famous away win for the Rhymney Valley men were dashed when Jordan Howells and Adam Powell were yellow-carded less than 2 minutes apart for different offences. As they did with the first card, Newport made them pay again when substitute, Geraint Watkin, took advantage of a driving scrum in the opponents’ redzone, picked up and touched down for the B&As’ fifth of the afternoon.
Bargoed finished the final 5 minutes stronger and added two late tries of their own courtesy of a catch and drive and a later Adam Powell score. But they had left it far too late to affect the scoreline.
FINAL SCORE: B&As 44-30 Bargoed
The Black & Ambers currently sit joint top of the table alongside Pontypridd and RGC 1404 with a maximum 10 points after 2 games. Next up is a visit to the capital to face the old enemy, Cardiff (Sat 15th), who are looking for their first win of the season, before returning to Rodney Parade in a fortnight’s time to welcome Bedwas (Sun 23rd).
SEREN Y GÊM: Rhys Jenkins
Match pictures from Simon Latham: https://simonlatham.smugmug.com/Premiership-Rugby/Season-2018-19/18-09-09-Newport-v-Bargoed/
Match pictures from Ron Sutcliffe: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147517109@N03/sets/72157695318492420/