RGC 1404 v Newport RFC 16th September 2023 by John Evans
The Black and Ambers travelled to north Wales for their Indigo Group Premiership fixture following a bye week in round 2 of the competition. Following a confidence-boosting win against Pontypool, it would prove to be a good test for this group of players. Newport often do quite well at Parc Eirias, so hopes were high for a positive result from the boys.
The weather conditions were decent, visibility was good, the offshore wind turbines being clearly seen, whilst a light breeze drifted off the sea.
Rhys Jenkins led the Newport team onto the field to mark the occasion of his 200th game for the club, a remarkable achievement for anybody, let alone somebody with such a full-blooded, abrasive playing style! Congratulations, Rhys, hopefully you’ll be wearing the jersey for a good while yet.
Contrast Rhys’ achievement with the club debut for young Jac Lloyd; a clearly talented outside half signed just this week. Hopefully, Jac will be around for a long time to come yet!
Young Mr. Lloyd kicked the game off, Newport playing left to right in front of the main stand, attacking the changing room end. Sam Stoddard, the RGC number 14, caught the ball before his scrum half, Ollie Wynn, cleared the ball to touch. However, RGC were soon in trouble when centre Delwyn Jones cleaned out Che Hope, horizontally, conceding a penalty. With the ball punted to the corner, captain Ben Roach took the lineout ball before setting up a rolling maul. The Black and Amber forwards nudged ahead, sucking their maroon-shirted counterparts in, before Che Hope himself spotted a sliver of a gap and burst through to score the games’ opening try on 2 minutes. The conversion was missed, so the scoreboard read RGC 0 Newport 5.
Newport looked to spread the ball quickly, trying to stretch the RGC defence, utilising wings Frewen and Andrew as equally as the midfield clatter of Westwood. It was effective as RGC were struggling at times. The north Walians were rapid in stepping up in defence, but the referee, Mr Simon Mills, seemed perfectly happy with their line speed and defensive starting positions.
Newport were dominant in the opening quarter, RGC’s robust defending giving the visitors a few problems but they couldn’t resist getting hands in a ruck on 13 minutes. Newport went to the corner again, but the lineout to Elliot Ferriman wasn’t straight. The Black and Amber scrum creased the opposition, but Ollie Wynn was smart enough to get the ball away to touch rapidly. Disaster awaited, however, as Oli Andrew tried to play the ball quickly and get Newport going into a broken field. Andrew passed the ball long to Carwyn Penny at full back, but the pass was nowhere near good enough, the ball dropping before Penny, forcing him to stop and gather the bounce, allowing time for the RGC chasers to nail him and retrieve the ball. The Gogs, as they call themselves, sniffed blood and soon fashioned an overlap on the left for wing Sam Stoddard to sprint across and equalise the scores. On 18 minutes the scoreboard read RGC 5 Newport 5.
This score had the added effect of giving RGC some confidence. They began playing with some belief and rhythm, which had previously been lacking. Home full back Sam Earl-Jones punted a superb 27th minute kick, roughly 70 metres in length, which pinned Newport just 5 metres from their own tryline. The Black and Ambers were astute enough to throw the ball long and leave Kyle Tayler to start the passage out of defence.
Joe Westwood made a cracking 30th minute break to puncture the maroon defence, before firing a long pass out to Oli Andrew. Hacking ahead, RGC centre Matthew Buchanan did very well to secure the ball despite the attentions of both Oli and Matt O’Brien. RGC tried to run out of defence but Kyle Andrew, the Deck Master, did what he does best, getting himself across the ball and retrieving possession for Newport.
RGC were slowly building a head of steam, as Newport were offside on 36 minutes, Ollie Wynn, the home 9, quickly tapping the penalty before launching wing Stoddard. Rhys Jenkins was back in defence to force the knock-on, but Newport were still on the defensive as Newport were pinged again with a lazy runner getting in Ollie Wynn’s way. Fancying points on the board, fullback Sam Earl-Jones opted for the penalty shot to make the score RGC 8 Newport 5 on 37 minutes.
Newport’s response was simplicity itself; a planned move with Oli Andrew coming off his wing to be first receiver from Che Hope’s pass, out quickly to Elliot Frewen, who, as is customary, weaved in and out of defenders whilst covering metres of ground, before Joe Westwood and Che Hope popped up in support. Westwood took the pass before drawing the last defender to give Che Hope a clear run to the line. Hope had room to arc his run under the posts, making Matt O’Brien’s conversion attempt easier. The scoreboard now read RGC 8 Newport 12 on 40 minutes.
RGC had a last roll of the dice for this period, centre Delwyn Jones appearing to be through, but he somehow spilled the ball, bringing the curtain down on an intriguing half of rugby.
Half Time RGC 1404 8 Newport RFC 12
Newport resumed unchanged from their starting line-up, as RGC outside half Harri Ford restarted the game. But it was a disastrous start as RGC quickly retrieved possession, broke from a ruck before a simple pass to wing Stoddard saw him skate in for his second try of the game. Sam Earl-Jones’ two-pointer made the score RGC 15 Newport 12.
It got worse as Newport were penalised on their 10-metre line, Earl-Jones opting to extend the lead with a 43-metre shot at goal, from almost directly in front of the posts. The score now was RGC 18 Newport 12.
Newport mistakes were becoming more numerous as the North Walians flew up in defence. RGC scrum half Ollie Wynn was terrific, to be fair, creative, and quick, keeping the Newport defence honest. A loose ball changed things as Elliot Frewen set off on a run before running out of options and kicking ahead. As anyone knows, a rugby ball can take a wicked angle if left to bounce, and this was one such occasion. The loose ball was secured by Rhys Jenkins before it was popped out to Matt O’Brien and then on to Elliot Ferriman in a position where he really didn’t want to be, out on the wing. Ferriman trucked the ball up but had too much to do to score. He made sure that Newport retained the ball, allowing the Black and Ambers to push on. Ben Roach managed to get the ball across the line, but Mr. Mills said that it was held up. He had spotted something else, though, and second row Ilan Evans, the RGC number 5, was shown a yellow card for a no-arms challenge in defence. Newport had to push on now, going phase after phase as our big boys charged at their big boys. A gap had to come, and it was prop Garin Harris who benefitted as he crashed over for a try. Matt O’Brien improved the score, now making it RGC 18 Newport 19 on 50 minutes.
There was plenty of fight about RGC as they sought to wrestle the lead off their visitors. A charged-down kick put Newport in trouble as RGC went through phases of their own before a yawning gap appeared to open up before second row Huw Taylor. Taylor was previously with the Dragons and has featured for the Black and Ambers on occasion, but he took his try well. Sam Earl-Jones added the conversion to make the score RGC 25 Newport 19 on 54 minutes.
Just before the hour, Ty Morris shuffled the pack, moving Matt O’Brien up to 10, with Jacob Lloyd coming into the centre, Iestyn Galton on for Elliot Frewen.
Carwyn Penny made a terrific 60th minute break as he scorched through the defence, but his pass out to Joe Westwood was judged forward. Thankfully, RGC offered Newport a way back into the game as forwards piled across a tackled player, giving Mr. Mills the easy decision of awarding a penalty. Newport went to the corner allowing Ben Roach to take the ball at the front and set up the rolling maul again. This stuttered, but Newport made sure as Garin Harris, again, crashed over from close range to put Black and Amber noses in front following Matt O’Brien’s two-pointer. RGC 25 Newport 26 with 62 minutes played.
Sam Earl-Jones, and the enthusiastic Sam Stoddard, were still causing havoc among the Newport defence; the game was too finely balanced to allow buccaneers like this that amount of space. RGC earned themselves a useful penalty on 67 minutes as Newport desperately held on to the ball in a tackle. Remarkably, Mr. Mills reversed the penalty when he gestured that RGC had been chopsing. Being this ill-disciplined in defence might be understandable, but not in attack. Head coach Ceri Jones must have been livid.
Newport extended their lead on 71 minutes following a splendid scrum which had the home pack in all sorts of trouble. Luke Crane, on for Che Hope, tapped and sprinted into the home 22 allowing Matt O’Brien to look for space. The ball quickly went along the line to Iestyn Galton, but he had too many defenders to get past. He did keep the ball alive, as it traversed back across the field. A long pass found Jacob Lloyd out wide to cross for a well-worked try. This made the score RGC 25 Newport 31.
A scrum on halfway had Newport attacking again as a long, raking kick set Oli Andrew off like a greyhound, only for the ball to bounce away from his outstretched hand as it crossed into the in-goal area. RGC took the goal-line drop out, only for a typically cheeky Matt O’Brien drop-goal to sail between the uprights. You could almost hear the collective exhale from the home supporters as they realised that the game had slipped away from them. RGC 25 Newport 34 on 75 minutes.
RGC threw everything into attack, after all, there were still two precious league points on offer. One more try and they would be within seven points, so it was worth a gamble. A smart chip and chase by Harri Ford threatened to burst the defence open, but he only managed to find Luke Crane with his next pass. Newport worked along the right flank before Joe Westwood stepped away from a tackle and released Oli Andrew to sprint home and score Newport’s sixth try of the afternoon and comfortably atone for his 16th minute misjudgement. Matt O’Brien topped off the scoring nicely with the two-pointer, making the score RGC 25 Newport 41 as the game entered added time.
RGC went in search of the try bonus, but the Black and Amber defensive curtain went up and snuffed them out to secure a satisfying win on the road.
Newport RFC are on the road again next weekend, but the journey is much shorter and easier. We’re away to our old friends from along the A48, Cardiff RFC, in the Premier Challenge Cup. Kick off is at 2.30pm in the Arms Park.
Our next home game is the following Saturday, 30th September, when Swansea RFC visit us at our Newport Stadium home. This is an Indigo Premiership fixture and the kick off is, again, at 2.30pm. Please come along and support the boys! They’re playing good, entertaining rugby and a big crowd will surely spur the team on!
In other news, some Newport RFC fixtures have been reversed, with us now travelling to Carmarthen Quins and Merthyr now travelling to us in October. Please look at the website at https://blackandambers.co.uk/fixtures-and-results for more information.
Come on, Newport!
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Final Score – RGC 1404 25 Newport RFC 41
Newport RFC Player of the Match – Kyle TaylerNew