by Rhys Owain Jones


Newport were looking to continue their fine run of form following a pair of victories on the road at Aberavon and Carmarthen.

Although impressive on the road, the hosts were hoping to match those performances on home turf, having lost their one-and-only clash at Newport Stadium this season at the hands of Swansea.

Merthyr would provide tough opposition for the Black & Ambers, having finished third in last year’s regular season and narrowly falling to eventual champions, Llandovery, in the play-off semi-finals.

The Ironmen were also looking to put right their mixed form so far this season, having come off a painful home defeat to Pontypool a week prior and failing to win away from The Wern since April. Even in their new Northampton-inspired alternate jerseys, they were immediately put under pressure by the home team to begin this afternoon’s clash.

With a lineout on Merthyr’s 40-metre line, Newport’s possession eventually found its way to Ioan Davies whose grubber kick forward caused panic in the visitors’ defence. Eventually, a Matt O’Brien cross-kick reached the hands of Ben Roach in the left-hand corner to force his way over for a score with barely two minutes played.

Davies was to cause more problems for his opponents soon after. His burst from just outside his own twenty-two led to a run by teammate Lloyd Lewis from the halfway line, who was then supported by Chay Foster-Smith to touch down and finish the final ten of a 70-yard try-scoring phase.

A sunny afternoon in Newport pre-match quickly turned into a wet and windy one, which took its toll on the goal-kicking throughout the afternoon. Having missed his first two conversion attempts, new recruit Jac Lloyd added a penalty to his side’s tally with little more than 10 minutes on the clock.

Merthyr, however, were then awarded a penalty try following some good bouts of pressure. Davies went from hero to villain when referee, Dewi Phillips, was in no doubt he had deliberately knocked-on to halt a try-scoring opportunity.

Bar a Josh Lewis penalty miss to close the gap, Newport survived those ten minutes a man short without conceding any more points and made Merthyr pay soon after going back to full strength. From a scrum on their opponents’ twenty-two, the Black & Ambers got their third try of the afternoon when a clever Jac Lloyd chip reached Lloyd Lewis’ right wing who outchased the defender and gladly touched down in the corner.

Anything Newport could do though, Merthyr could do too. From inside the hosts’ twenty-two, Josh Lewis’ elegant chip over the backline landed in Ben Jones’ grateful arms to score under the posts. Simple, but very effective.

With Lewis having converted both the away team’s tries, Jac Lloyd successfully slotted over a penalty with the final kick of the half to ensure the hosts were at least one score ahead going into the interval.

HANNER AMSER: B&As 21-14 Merthyr

With Merthyr’s defensive prowess and the typical Welsh weather contributing to the afternoon’s outcome, Newport were finding it difficult to extend their lead. Jac Lloyd continued to struggle with his goalkicking and was unlucky not to see another penalty attempt split the sticks, however the fourth quarter saw his side’s efforts pay off.

Fresh from replacing Tyler Olding at hooker, Wade Langley found himself at the bottom of a catch-and-drive move to secure the bonus point for the Black & Ambers and go 12 points ahead.

Though again, anything Newport could do, Merthyr could do too. Almost a carbon copy of Langley’s first score in his new colours saw prop Travis Hawkins finish a similar phase at the other end of the field. Together with a Josh Lewis conversion, the gap was narrowed to five points.

With the clock ticking, both sides were making their own mistakes and neither were forcing their way through their opposition defence. It only needed one moment of brilliance to clinch the game.

A 30-yard driving maul from one half to the other gave substitute Carwyn Penny an attractive position from which to kick a penalty, thus securing Newport’s third consecutive five-point win and snatching away a losing bonus point from the jaws of the travelling Ironmen. He did so with ease, much to the delight of the Black & Amber Wall in attendance.

SGÔR TERFYNOL: B&As 29-21 Merthyr

SEREN Y GÊM: Ben Roach

Newport are now building up a decent winning-streak and look to add to that run on Wednesday evening when ninth-placed Pontypridd come to town. Kick-off at Newport Stadium is at 7.15pm.

Following that, the Black & Ambers have a ten-day break before returning to action at the Arms Park, the site of their disappointing, early Cup exit last month. The match against Cardiff on Saturday 11 November will kick-off at the usual time of 2.30pm.

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