Rosslyn Park RFC vs Newport RFC – 11th August 2018 by John Evans


With the summer rugby hiatus drawing to a close, weekends begin to have meaning again as the joy of following the fortunes of Newport RFC prevails!

After the run out against neighbours Risca RFC last week it was time to step up preparations by taking on our good friends from the Smoke, Rosslyn Park RFC. There are links between our two clubs on the current playing front as Adam Frampton and brothers Hugo and Arthur Ellis all represented Park at some point on Saturday, all of whom have played in the Black and Amber jersey of our club.

As sometimes happens with this type of fixture the game was split into three thirty-minute periods, giving the impression of having three ‘halves’ and, with only the most meagre of team sheets to go by, Rosslyn Park’s players remained relatively anonymous unless they actually scored. Some of their players, however, looked excellent. Naturally, the three aforementioned lads played well, as one might expect, so Newport were going to be sure of being thoroughly tested.

Matt O’Brien kicked the first thirty minutes off but Newport conceded and instant penalty as over-eagerness saw the ball-receiver taken in mid-air. Park booted the penalty up to the Newport 22-metre line before launching a well-controlled rolling maul. The red and white hoops mauled up to the five-metre line before Josh Skinner, playing at blind side, was pinged for fringing the ruck. Park’s Jamie Gray claimed the throw but illegally as Park had closed the line, relieving the pressure on Newport.

Matt O’Brien tried to spark but it wasn’t happening just yet. It would, just not yet. Jonny Morris continued to throw himself at opponents, as normal, while the Park defenders snapped into tackles and closed down Newport’s space. Kyle Tayler was onto a loose ball quickly and Newport were encouraged to build. The ball zipped across the back-line as tackles rained in on the Black and Ambers. Henry Palmer made a pass out to Chay Smith but Smith tried to take the pass and break the tackle in the same movement without success.

Newport conceded a penalty which returned Park to the Newport 5-metre line. Park’s Gray claimed it again but Newport’s summer acquisition from Hartridge RFC, Matthew Reed, wrapped the ball up at the maul and eventually came away with possession launching a long range attack. Harri Lang received the ball on the wing and hared off with Jonny Morris and Chay Smith sprinting in support. Lang drew his defender and picked out Smith but the Rosslyn Park fullback showed an impressive turn of speed to get back and tackle Smith. Newport were awarded a scrum from which Newport released a set play. Ryan James at scrum half passed directly to Tom Pascoe at inside centre, who passed back to James who then found Matt O’Brien on an arcing run, at pace, heading for the corner. O’Brien scored the try on 9 minutes and converted his own score for Newport to lead 7-0.

Josh Skinner took the restart, the ball then finding its way out to Jonny Morris to take a dip at the defenders. Morris was isolated by the Park defence, who failed to do much with the ball when they had it. Kyle Tayler pounced on loose possession again for Ryan James to box kick with Morris and the recently married Haydn Palmer to pursue. The ball rolled into touch around the Park 22-metre line. Kyle Tayler expertly managed to strip Park’s Hugo Ellis of the ball before Newport were penalised again for not releasing the ball in the tackle. As Park began to build phases Harri Lang spotted a weakness; he picked off a pass and made a bolt for the distant try line. To their credit, three corner-flaggers managed to reach him but they then failed to release him. Matt O’Brien, quick-witted as ever, spotted that Park had left their left flank totally unguarded; a simple cross-kick into the arms of Jonny Morris and all he had to do was dot down. This made the score Rosslyn Park 0 Newport 12 on 19 minutes.

Rosslyn Park responded, continuing to play rugby and pound the Newport defence before Jamie Gray, Parks number 5, took a ball awkwardly. Ryan James ‘persuaded’ the ball out of his grasp and back on the Newport side. Henry Palmer played the ball out to Matt O’Brien who set Harri Lang and Haydn Palmer running again. Park managed to cover but knocked the ball on in doing so. The result was probably Newport’s try of the day. Matt O’Brien took the ball and, running with the ball in two hands, Barry John-style, stood his opposite number up a treat, skated through the gap and into wide open space. Chay Smith made another lung-busting run in support before taking the simple pass, outstripping the defence and jogging in to score behind the posts. Matt O’Brien added the two to make the score Rosslyn Park 0 Newport 19 on 24 minutes.

Newport conceded a 26th minute penalty as he grew tired of the advice he was receiving form certain quarters. Park kicked themselves back into scoring range but Matthew Reed managed to get hands to the ball and wrap up possession. Newport tried to run the ball from the scrum but Matthew Reed was tackled from behind spilling the ball forward. Rosslyn Park went through the phases patiently before hooker Owen Hughes barrelled across the line after some good work taking the score to Rosslyn Park 7 Newport 19 at the end of the first period.

After thirty minutes – Rosslyn Park 7 Newport 19

Rosslyn Park’s outside half Greg Lound restarted the second period. Newport took the ball but Park pushed up and pressurised them. A line-out ball to Joe Bartlett was spoiled by Adam Frampton, something he did so effectively for Newport for years. Park moved the ball right and gained ground as they attacked their clubhouse end. The ball went up the Park jumper, so to speak, as the pack heaved and rolled across the Newport line but Matthew Reed came up with the ball and attempted to carry it away. Unfortunately the ball was slapped from his grasp, bouncing backwards over the Newport line. Adam Frampton reacted first and fell on the ball to score Park’s second try. Lound slotted the conversion making the score Rosslyn Park 14 Newport 19 on 33 minutes.

A good kick from Matt O’Brien put Newport within striking distance but Park’s Frampton was playing well in the line out. Ryan James was then penalised for offside although quite how a player can be offside when starting his run from behind the back foot of the maul and hitting his opposite number who has the ball in his hands but has service slower than a Café Rouge waiter must remain a mystery. Rosslyn Park built up a head of steam but Kyle Tayler salvaged the situation again by getting over a loose ball within the Newport 22-metre area for Matt O’Brien to jink around to Park attackers in his in-goal area and kick Newport to safety.

Rosslyn Park conceded a 39th minute penalty for taking the scrum down. Matt O’Brien hoofed Newport to approximately 24 metres out, despite the best efforts of their wing. Newport secured the ball but Rosslyn Park were quickly up in defence. Ryan James was forced to kick, the ball rolling up to the Park 10 metre line. Park’s Arthur Ellis offered himself as first receiver and ploughed at the Black and Ambers but got little change from them and the hosts soon booted possession away.

A 43rd minute Newport attack came to nought as a pass between Tom Pascoe and Chay Smith was judged forward as Smith cleaved through the Park defence sweetly.

Rosslyn Park were gaining confidence as their passes went to hand and the Newport wall became more and more stretched. Eventually second row Jamie Gray crossed for a try with Greg Lound converting to make the score Rosslyn Park 21 Newport 19 on 49 minutes.

Newport restarted and hooker Will Evans was soon making a nuisance of himself, regaining possession and driving forward. A loose pass by Ryan James was countered by the fact the Park were offside. Matt O’Brien kicked Newport to the corner but the throw was too long, allowing Park to mop up the ball. The hosts kicked possession away again, inviting Newport to run back at them. Haydn Palmer found Jonny Morris, always game for a bit of physical contact, who took the ball into a maul but was isolated again. Park hooker Owen Hughes simply stepped over Morris picked up the ball and booted Newport back into their own half.

On 55 minutes Matt O’Brien was in the chair once again, a neat chip over the heads of the defenders, regathered his own kick and leaving the red and white hoops flummoxed. Once they eventually caught up with him, just eight metres from their own line, they conceded a penalty. Newport opted for muscle. O’Brien went to the corner and, following a well-executed maul, Tom Piper claimed a rare score. That made it Rosslyn Park 21 Newport 26.

Newport switched to defensive mode easily and flanker Josh Reid stood out, putting himself about and making himself available. A super kick by O’Brien put Newport in a promising position but the referee called time on the second period of play.

After sixty minutes – Rosslyn Park 21 Newport 26

Haydn Simons replaced Matt O’Brien in the pivot position and it was him who started the third period. It only took a minute for Morgan Burgess to receive the referee’s wrath for chopsing after he had issued a warning towards the end of the second period. Park attacked Newport patiently, going through phases from right to left until Haydn Palmer produced his party piece of picking off a stray pass. Palmer set off valiantly but, with all due respect to Palmer, if the defence can catch Harri Lang then they’re going to catch Haydn Palmer. As the defence closed in Palmer wisely sought support. Jonny Morris was steaming up on Palmer’s left but the pass was spilled and the points were left unscored.

Newport continued to attack but Park defended solidly; Josh Skinner demonstrated his talent as a footballer by putting in a tidy kick which turned defence into attack as Harri Lang sprinted after it but Park cleared the danger expertly.

Morgan Burgess resumed flank duties with zero points conceded in his absence. A pass to centre Matt McGovern from a scrum was again judged forward after McGovern had burst through. Newport were containing Rosslyn Park reasonably well, forcing them to kick rather than go through phases. Haydn Palmer did well to athletically keep a move alive by running a ball back along the touch line, chipping a defender, regathering and getting the ball back infield, but the burst by Matt McGovern saw the ball spilled in contact.

The referee penalised prop Lewis Smout, seeming to signal that he felt that Smout was ‘hinging’ in the scrum. Park kicked for the corner. The line out jumper was held in the air for an inordinate amount of time, another fact not to overly trouble the referee, but it didn’t matter as Newport got over the ball and won themselves a scrum. The referee then awarded Newport a full penalty after Park took an early drive. Sadly Haydn Simons’ kick only reached the Newport 22-metre line. The lineout went awry as Rhys Cresswell, who was pretty solid all game, missed the throw; Morgan Burgess appeared to flap at it before it arrived in the hands of Park’s Hugo Ellis. Ellis was the fulcrum of the attack and threatened briefly but the ball was spilled in the next phase.

Newport conceded a penalty at the scrum. Greg Lound put Park in the corner before a well worked rolling maul had Arthur Ellis crashing through a gap in defence to level the scores to twenty six points apiece on 84 minutes.

The Newport restart disastrously failed to clear ten metres giving park possession on halfway. To their credit they worked their way up field before forcing the Newport defence to infringe just five metres from their line. Sportingly Park opted for the lineout, rather than plump for the match-winning three points. Hugo Ellis took the ball cleanly, the maul set up around him and Adam Bellamy was the recipient as Park took the lead on 90+2 minutes. Greg Lound fired the conversion through to make the final score 33-26

After ninety minutes – Rosslyn Park 33 Newport 26

This was an entertaining fixture, a match played in a good spirit where the result was secondary to the performance. Newport performed very well with a mix of players for eighty minutes, sadly coming apart at the seams a little in the final ten minutes. As was said later, if it was a game that Newport really HAD to win, then they would have won. The signs are promising for a good season and, now that there appears to be the lure of interesting games against Scottish opponents for finishing in the top six of the Principality Premiership this season, there is a tangible target to aim for.

There is a lot to be hopeful about at Newport RFC this season.

The next step in Newport’s pre-season preparations is a visit to the Welfare Ground, the home of Newbridge RFC. Kick-off should be at 2.30pm.

Come on Newport! #cotp

Newport Man Of The Match – Matt O’Brien

FINAL SCORE _ Rosslyn Park 33  Newport RFC 26

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