Matches between the Black & Ambers and Carmarthen always seem to be high-scoring affairs. Who could forget our 74-33 win over the Quins at Rodney Parade to end the 2012/13 season? Maybe this one didn’t quite reach the 107-point target reached 5 seasons ago, but 69’s total today is certainly a good effort.
Unfortunately, Newport came just short in what many would call a game of two halves, eventually prevailing 36-33, despite a gallant comeback and securing 2 bonus points for their efforts.
The first of the day’s 10 tries came after 7 minutes, when Dale Ford’s break ignited some Carmarthen pressure and Ellis Lloyd finished the job. They could have easily had a second soon after, when Nic Reynolds smashed through the fragile Newport defence. Some quick and silky passing followed and Josh Batcup went through to touch down for the Quins, only to be denied by a forward pass in the build up.
The B&As had to react, and with little possession and not many chances created, they had to pounce on any opportunity which came their way. Chay Smith did exactly that and the young centre intercepted in midfield and raced home to score under the sticks. Matt O’Brien got his first of 4 conversions to put his side in the lead and to edge ever-closer to his personal 500-point tally.
Former Newport outside-half, Aled Thomas, had a fantastic game at full-back for the Quins and got his side back in the lead with the boot, before Newport replied with another interception try. Haydn Palmer doing what his centre partner did 10 minutes earlier.
After that, the ‘Port collapsed. A Rhodri Clancy try for the home side started the onslaught, which was aided by a Josh Reid yellow card soon after, forcing the B&As to finish the half with 14 men. Reid, having recently turned 20 years old, was adjudged by referee Wayne Davies to have committed a dangerous tackle. Carmarthen crossed over twice more before the half-time whistle, to give them a comfortable lead and secure them a bonus point already at the break.
HALF TIME: Carmarthen 29-12 B&As
With the B&As still one man short, the Quins weren’t done. Nic Reynolds made another dangerous break through the away defence and put Josh Batcup in for their fifth touchdown of the afternoon. Another Aled Thomas conversion made it 36-12 (21-0 while Reid was in the bin). A costly 10 minutes indeed.
It was then, Newport decided to start playing rugby. Some good possession gave Chay Smith a gap to run through, although a knock on ended that move, and later a thunderous Elliot Frewen tackle forced a turnover leading to a Matt O’Brien kick to the corner, which Haydn Palmer raced towards and came close to collecting, but was beaten by the touch line.
The B&As were making changes all over the park; their bench was completely emptied within a 20-minute period. One of those replacements was Matt Prosser, who at one phase fancied having a crack at playing centre. In doing so, his break through the Carmarthen defence came close to a score, but Alex Everett completed the play and gave Newport some much-needed points.
Another replacement was Haydn Simons, who was close to putting in his fellow-sub, Jon Morris, had he provided a better pass. He also put Frewen in the corner, but a Quins tackle on the touchline forced an inbound pass to an opposing player.
Many times over recent seasons we’ve seen Newport on the wrong end of interception tries, but today, the tables had certainly turned. Morris made it a hat-trick of interception scores as he, together with Matt O’Brien, worked well to ensure they also side got a fourth try, thus going home with at least one bonus point. 10 points now the difference, with just under 10 minutes on the clock.
There have been many tense endings this season. Hearts pounding, nail biting, nerve racking, and when the powerful second row, Joe Bartlett, squeezed through a hole in the Carmarthen defence and galloped over the finish line in injury time, along with ‘’OB’s” conversion to close the gap to 3 points, it had all the makings of a grand finale.
At half time, you would have had some great odds on Newport to overturn a considerable deficit, but sadly, that was more or less it for this one. As the Quins scrum-half booted the ball into touch, the Carmarthen faithful were more than relieved to survive the B&As’ late onslaught but Craig Warlow’s men can take a lot of positives: 2 bonus points against the 2nd-placed side in the division, great fight and determination to come back and almost turn the game on its head and, perhaps more importantly, no injuries.
‘Port will probably have one eye on the Cup final in two weeks’ time, but there are still a couple of League games to get through first: Bargoed at home on Tuesday night and a trip back to the Talbot Athletic Ground, the scene of last week’s ecstasy, to face Aberavon.
FINAL SCORE: Carmarthen 36-33 B&As
Seren y Gêm: Owen Davies
#COTP #YmlaenCasnewyddMatch pictures from Ron Sutcliffe: click