Newport crash out of cup

Newport RFC v Carmarthen Quins RFC 13th September 2019 by John Evans

With a steady away win in the Indigo Group Premiership already in their back pocket Newport swiftly moved on to the Specsavers Welsh Cup, unusually being played so early in the season in order to spread he fixtures around, mitigating somewhat against the loss of teams from the league and combating the regular quagmires that can be Welsh rugby pitches in January.

A home draw against Carmarthen Quins seemed reasonable enough. The game was made an 8pm kick off in order to give their players time to finish work and travel to Newport on a busy Friday evening.

Quins outside half Steff Marshall got the game underway. Matt O’Brien took the catch and returned the ball. Newport retrieved possession and spun the ball out to Tom Pascoe who made a half break before being halted by Quins second row and captain Haydn Pugh. Newport kept the move flowing as Luke Crane sprinted forward with flanker Josh Skinner to his right. With a two-on-one overlap, Crane just had to make the simple pass to Skinner for the big back-rower to canter over for a quick and easy score. Matt O’Brien added the two point conversion to make it Newport 7 Quins 0 with just two minutes played.

The crowd may have been forgiven for thinking that Quins were still on the bus, figuratively speaking, but the visitors soon dispelled any such notion. Quins full back Dale Ford was up quickly to take Steff Marshall’s restart. Quins started to hammer left but it was when they swung right that they found some room out wide. Quins wing Geraint Llewellyn sailed along the touchline, ball in hand, but contrived to lose possession while over the try line. The Newport defensive scrum five metres out should have been textbook but became a horror show as the scrum wheeled allowing scrum half Ifan Thomas to gather the ball and scamper across the line for a try. Steff Marshall added the two points to make it seven points apiece with just five minutes played.

Quins gave us the first sight of a weapon that they used to devastating effect on Newport later in the game. Their rolling maul was a thing of wonder, splendidly executed and very nearly impossible to break up. Once set up they appeared to be able to draw penalties at will from the referee, Mr Jason Morris. Newport conceded for ‘side entry’ but, on this occasion, Quins couldn’t make the position work for them as hooker Torin Myhill overthrew the lineout.

The game quickly opened up as both sides looked for broken field. Quins wing Morgan Griffiths spiral-kicked a ball towards Matt O’Brien which had O’Brien sprinting forward with the willing Josh Skinner in support. Skinner took the pass, then the contact but Quins were over enthusiastic with their defending as prop Ben Leung circled offside then gave Mr Morris his opinion which earned them a ten metre walk towards the posts. Matt O’Brien took the opportunity to nudge Newport ahead by adding a penalty kick to the score making it Newport 10 Quins 7 with 13 minutes gone.

The Quins rolling maul was used to great effect on 17 minutes when it rumbled ominously forward. Newport desperately tried to fling bodies at it from all directions but they simply made Mr Morris’ decision easy as Steff Marshall launched the penalty kick to five metres out on the Hazell stand side. Number 8 Lawrence Reynolds jumped at the tail of the lineout, secured the ball and set up the maul. Hooker Torin Myhill latched onto the rear of the maul and barged his way across for the archetypal hookers try. Steff Marshall added the conversion to make the score Newport 10 Quins 14.

Newport settled down with a little bit of possession. Jonny Morris pierced the Quins defence with a searing run. Josh Reid pounded away to his right but the pass to Reid saw him hit man-and-ball making the knock on almost inevitable. Newport persisted and it paid dividends on 24 minutes with a super try for Jonny Morris. Llywarch ap Myrrdin was first to his own kick ahead and secured possession for Newport. Josh Reid ran into traffic but kept the ball available for Henry Palmer to plough forward and into the Quins 22 metre area. The ball switched left where Matt O’Brien had Jonny Morris on standby. Morris took the pass, arched his back away from the fingertips of the Quins tacklers and strode over for a try. Matt O’Brien improved on it and made the score Newport 17 Quins 14.

Newport tried to keep the momentum going when Tom Pascoe was on the receiving end of a high tackle, high enough for Mr Morris to reach for his yellow card and send Quins flanker Ed Siggery to sit on the naughty step. Newport kicked for position but were unfortunate when the ball bobbled away from Joe Bartlett’s grasp. The Black and Ambers kept battering. Louis Jones ran hard and straight when allowed to, Andrew Mann and Josh Reid also made effective carries. Tom Pascoe launched Llywarch ap Myrddin towards the left and he tore along the field making ground and space for Elliot Frewen to his further left. ‘Larry’ tried to pass and fend in the same action and the ball went forwards. Quins cleared to 25 metres from the base of the scrum but conceded a penalty by impeding the Newport jumper. Matt O’Brien kicked to the corner. Joe Bartlett took the lineout ball successfully but the hosts attempt at a rolling maul of their own never really got started and Quins were able to wrap it up and earn the turnover.

Newport received a piece of fortune from a mistake as a lineout was nearly wasted as nobody jumped to receive Henry Palmer’s throw. Tom Piper, standing at the very rear of the line managed a half-clearance before a Quins boot swung at the ball. Elliot Frewen mopped up the situation while the first Quins on the scene simply flopped over the player and gave away a penalty. Matt O’Brien fancied his chances from about 37 metres out and along the tramline. It was justified too, as the kick sailed cleanly between the uprights to make the score Newport 20 Quins 14.

Both teams kept running at each other as play stagnated somewhat in the middle third of the field. Matt O’Brien tried to break the deadlock as he attempted a cross kick to wing Ryan Gardner but the ball sailed out on the full bringing a frantic first half to a close.

Half Time   Newport RFC 20 Carmarthen Quins RFC 14

Matt O’Brien kicked off the second half and instantly had Quins on the defensive. The ball cleared high above the head of Haydn Pugh, the Quins second row and captain, and into the path of Jonny Morris and Ryan Gardner. Quins knocked on in the ensuing panic and afforded Newport a great attacking platform. Rhys Jenkins broke from the back of the scrum and carried hard. Luke Crane picked out runners, Louis Jones going low and hard, Josh Skinner was physical before Matt O’Brien found Josh Reid with a neat flick but, again, Reid was taken man-and-ball and the knock on was inevitable. Quins kicked the ball clear from the scrum which Llywarch ap Myrddin caught. He ran back at Quins before bringing Ryan Gardner onto the ball. Gardner juggled with the ball but Mr Morris declared that he had knocked on. The strong Quins scrum then had Tom Piper stand up and Quins could turn defence into attack.

From the Quins lineout on the Bisley side the ball spread wide. Haydn Pugh set up a ruck and the ball went left again a pass with a hint of forward to Morgan Griffiths had the Newport backs act like the great Arsenal back line of the years gone by when Tony Adams and Steve Bould would spend half a game with their arms in the air appealing for offside. Mr Morris wasn’t interested in appeals and awarded Griffiths the try in the corner. Steff Marshall missed the conversion leaving Newport just ahead, twenty point to nineteen.

Next came a series of unfortunate events that possibly turned the tide against Newport. Jonny Morris palmed back Matt O’Brien’s restart while Luke Crane picked out Matt O’Brien. O’Brien then tried to thread a quick-fire pass through the eye of a proverbial needle. The ambitious effort was picked off by Quins wing Geraint Llewellyn who, with the Newport defence flat-footed, gathered his thoughts and the ball before haring off towards the undefended try line. Only Elliot Frewen came anywhere close as his despairing lunge to ankle-tap Llewellyn was fractionally short and the Quins winger could choose his spot to dot the ball down. Steff Marshall added the two-pointer to make it Newport 20 Quins 26 on 47 minutes.

Newport regrouped. Jonny Morris and Ryan Gardner again made life uncomfortable for the Quins kick receivers as they circled like a pair of sharks around a seal. They struck lucky as possession was regained and Tom Piper was first up with a drive at the white-shirted defence. Josh Skinner almost broke clear before the door was slammed shut in his face. Piper was showing up well again, subbing for Luke Crane at ‘9’ as he passed to Matt O’Brien. With the Quins defence up flat and fast, O’Brien tried a little chip kick to the corner which Ryan Gardner swooped onto to claim a try. Matt O’Brien was unable to add the conversion making the score Newport 25 Quins 26 with fifty minutes played.

Jonny Morris displayed his appetite for work five minutes later as he assisted in blasting Quins into touch then, just moments later, producing a fizzing, energetic run that carried the Black and Ambers deep into the Quins 22 metre area. Morris was tackled and the ball emerged from the side of the ruck towards the Quins side suspiciously quickly and the visitors could clear.

Quins used their powerful rolling maul to devastating effect on the hour as Newport conceded a penalty. The lineout, on the Newport 22 metre line, Bisley side, had Haydn Pugh take the throw then set up the maul. Quins edged forward, metre after metre until they were dangerously close. The maul was unstoppable on this occasion and Torin Myhill, the hooker, finished off the superbly disciplined and controlled set piece. Steff Marshall added the conversion that, in all honesty, it probably deserved to make it Newport 25 Quins 33.

Time and tide wait for no man, they say, and, as the clock ticked, Newport became increasingly more anxious in their attacks. A 65th minute penalty was given as the Quins quaked at a scrum. Newport tried increasingly hard to fabricate an opening along the touchlines but the visitors defence was equal to it. A 69th minute attack stalled when a pass out went behind the entire Newport back line. The Black and Ambers secured possession, even whilst on a rearguard action but then squandered it when they spent so long directing each other into positon that Quins simply stepped forward and picked it up. Newport repelled that situation but Mr Morris spotted a knock on from which he then spotted a scrum infringement against Newport. Steff Marshall slotted the easy three-pointer to make it Newport 25 Quins 36 on 71 minutes.

A short restart had Josh Skinner first to the ball on the floor. After a few bursts a pass left to Skinner was just millimetres too far in front of him and Newport lost momentum again. The same outcome happened again just minutes later when Reuben Tucker, on as a replacement for Skinner, had the same happen to him and the ball was lost.

With time nearly up Newport were desperate to go forward. Matt O’Brien flung a pass out but Quins replacement Jake Newman was guilty of deliberate knock on so he, too, was shown a yellow card and invited to sit out the rest of the game. Quins almost scored again when scrum half Ifan Thomas took a quick tap penalty and sprinted off with centre Nick Reynolds in pursuit. Thomas and Reynolds exchanged passes before Thomas knocked on under pressure.

With time very nearly up, Dan Partridge made a strong break amongst tired Quins defenders and made good yardage. Matt O’Brien spotted half an opportunity in the corner as he placed a kick for Llywarch ap Myrddin to chase. Sadly for Newport the ball was slightly too quick for the pacey fullback and rolled dead and, thus, brought an early end to Newport’s cup run for the 2019-2020 season.

It wasn’t to be. Carmarthen Quins played very well and were the better team on the day, no question. We wish them luck in the forthcoming rounds of the Specsavers Cup and look forward to our two meetings with them in the league this season.

With the season only just started Newport now enter an enforced break for a couple of weeks. The match at home to Bridgend next weekend has been postponed at the Ravens request and no rearranged date has been forthcoming just yet. The two weekends following that were blank anyway due to the World Cup so the next Black and Amber match is an Indigo Group Premiership game away at Aberavon on Saturday 12th October, after which the season gets going properly. The players may need a mid-season pre-season friendly to stay sharp!

Onwards and upwards Newport.

Your City. Your Colours. Your Club


Newport RFC Man of the Match – Josh Skinner

Final Score – Newport RFC 25 Carmarthen Quins RFC 36