Carmarthen Quins RFC v Newport RFC 1st May 2022 by John Evans
This weekend could not have proved a greater contrast to the previous. The bright sun of the Principality Stadium was replaced with grey Carmarthenshire drizzle; bobble hats that had previously been put away for the summer were dug out of hiding. The Welsh cup was metaphorically in the trophy cabinet and the Indigo Group Premiership had already been won by a worthy Cardiff RFC, who overcame Merthyr the previous Thursday to wrap up that particular trinket. Naturally, Newport RFC congratulate our old friends and rivals on their success.
It has been a quirk, in this oddest of seasons, that it has taken the best part of nine months to meet today’s opponents, yet Newport have met both Pontypridd and Cardiff on four occasions apiece.
The S4C cameras dictated that the game would be played at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, presumably the mandarins at the channel were hoping, as were we, that it would be a last day dogfight with Newport either emerging as champions or sending the Indigo Group Premiership title back up the M4 to the Arms Park. As noted already, that ship had sailed. Instead, it was a chance to prove their credentials; with nothing to play for but pride, pride was motivation enough. Long may that spirit continue.
Will Reed got the game underway, playing left to right in front of the main stand. Quins returned the kick for a line out, but Newport were pressing straight away, going through the phases to make metres, Lewis Smout being especially effective here, but a further kick forward from Matt O’Brien went directly to touch.
Another Matt O’Brien kick on 6 minutes, angled to the corner for Jonny Morris to chase, had Quins fullback Dylan Richards scampering back into position to cover. Quins hands in the subsequent ruck gave Newport a penalty at close range. Will Reed kicked for the corner. Rhys Jenkins took the lineout ball, but Newport were inaccurate at the maul and the referee, Mr Adam Jones, judged that it should be a Quins relieving penalty.
A 10th minute counter-ruck was very effective at regaining the ball on the edge of the Quins 22. A rapid-fire cross-kick from Will Reed to Jonny Morris was accurate, but the Ninja Warrior had too much to do and was shepherded into touch harmlessly.
Newport were enjoying a purple patch. Will Reed put Newport into the corner, on the stand side, giving Quins a 5-metre defensive lineout. The ball went long, sailing over the top of the lineout and into the arms of Henry Palmer who burrowed forward. Newport went through the phases, Luke Crane appearing at the base of the ruck time and again, keeping Newport moving as the big boys lined up to pommel to Quins line. After the broadsword, it was the rapier of Cameron Lewis that cut the Quins open. He took the pass, a couple of skips right and left and he had found space enough to dot down for the try. Will Reed added the conversion to make it Carmarthen Quins 0 Newport 7 on 12 minutes.
Quins tried to mount an attack immediately, but the ball fumbled from the hands of Gethin Davies. Matt O’Brien punished that error by whacking the ball away and gifting the Black and Ambers a 50:22 lineout and putting them on the front foot. Again, the forwards went through the battering phases until Ben Roach crossed the line on the 16th minute, only to be held up by desperate Quins defence and restarting with a Quins goal line drop-out.
Quins were wracked by inaccuracies and were struggling to give themselves a platform at this point, whereas Newport seemed to be dominant in most aspects of the game.
A strong Newport scrum on 20 minutes gave them a penalty which was kicked to touch. Quick ball off the top from Ben Roach saw the ball spread wide quickly. Jon Morris popped the ball to Matt O’Brien who had Ioan Davies gliding up from full back for Newport. Davies’ pass, however, to either O’Brien or Crane on his right, wasn’t great and a clear try-scoring opportunity went begging.
Quins’ hands in a 26th minute scrum was an easy penalty for Mr. Jones to give. Will Reed punted the ball to touch but, again, Quins did just enough to spoil, and Newport were pushed away.
The Black and Ambers got their next score on 30 minutes through Henry Palmer. Quins were pinged offside when flanker Nic Cudd and hooker Lewis Morgan were offside following a slap-down from Jonny Morris. Newport were back up to the Quins 22 on the stand side with a lineout. Cameron Lewis was strong again going forward, George Young worked hard securing the ball. Luke Crane was omnipresent at the back of various mauls as Newport inched forward. Quins were pinged again, prompting Newport to go route one. Kick to the corner, Roach up, rolling maul set, Palmer coupling onto the back to ease over the line to touch down. Will Reed added the conversion to make the score Carmarthen Quins 0 Newport 14 on 31 minutes. This score also took Newport to over one hundred tries for the season.
Quins finally got into gear on 33 minutes. A high tackle by Josh Skinner allowed them a rare foray into the Newport 22. Playing with a penalty advantage and getting little change with their rolling maul, they released their backs. Quins centre Dale Ford stepped around the onrushing Newport defence and popped the ball to fellow centre Eddie James to cross for the try. Outside half Steff Marshall added the two-pointer to make the score Carmarthen Quins 7 Newport 14 on 33 minutes.
The score appeared to give the Quins an infusion of energy; suddenly, they had switched on and were asking questions of the Newport defence. A 38th minute penalty against Newport, for playing the ball on the ground, allowed Quins to set up in the corner. A rolling maul got close to the line, but no further. Newport then had to grit their teeth and put in a heck of a defensive set, lasting fully two minutes, to repel wave upon wave of Quins attacks. The longer it went on, the sooner Quins would become frustrated and force the situation. The halftime whistle sounded with no further scoring, ending a spell that typified Newport RFC this season and was as impressive as anything else we’ve watched since last summer.
Half Time Carmarthen Quins RFC 7 Newport RFC 14
Steff Marshall restarted the game for Quins, Ben Roach caught the ball, set up allowing Luke Crane to belt the ball away.
Wing Kalum Evans passed back to his fullback colleague Dylan Richards on 43 minutes, crucially passing back inside the Quins 22. The kick went out on the full allowing Newport to set up position. A few phases in but Newport were found wanting in protecting the ball allowing Quins to get over it and turn over. Rhys Jenkins wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass and his charge down proved crucial. Matt O’Brien picked out Henry Palmer as a ball-carrier, Josh Skinner ramming the point home. Luke Crane effervesced, allowing Will Reed to place a delicate kick for Ioan Davies to get close to the line. Henry Palmer was on hand again to bullock across the line and score try number three for the Black and Ambers this afternoon. Will Reed added the conversion to make it Carmarthen Quins 7 Newport 21 on 46 minutes.
A Quins line out, off the top from second row Ryan Bean, seemed to give Quins some go-forward but the pass out from Eddie James was easily picked off by Matt O’Brien who scampered the 40 metres to the line unopposed. Will Reed, again, added the extra points to make it Carmarthen Quins 7 Newport 28 on 51 minutes. This put Matt on a total of 1008 points for the club, closing in on third position in the overall Newport RFC points scoring table, chasing Shane Howarth’s 1035 points.
Dafydd Smith was picked up for being off his feet at a ruck, giving Quins a penalty. They booted to the corner to set up their phases, going left then right, before Steff Marshall found room enough for Ryan Bean to barge through a half gap and dot down. Mr Jones consulted with his TMO, Mr Greg Morgan, about the score, finding that the try was good, but that Kyle Tayler, only just back to fitness and newly on the field for Josh Reid, was responsible for a high tackle on hooker Lewis Morgan in the build-up. Tayler was invited to sit down for ten minutes and watch his mates attempt to hold their lead. Steff Marshall added the conversion to make the score Carmarthen Quins 14 Newport 28 on 57 minutes.
Quins weren’t helping themselves as 14-man Newport pressed on, causing Mr Jones to consult his TMO again on the hour after Quins wing Curtis Ford had been found to deliberately knock-on as Newport attacked. It was a penalty only, but Newport were still brimming with attacking purpose.
A kick from Will Talbot-Davies saw Quins try to gamble and run from their own 22, but the Black and Amber wall clamped down on any such notions. Quins were turned over promptly and forced to switch to defensive mode. Newport struggled to find gaps, however, and a pass out from Dafydd Smith went harmlessly to ground.
Newport had a shaky moment on 66 minutes when they were sucked into the same hubris of trying to run from deep. A booming pass to centre Jack Brooks was fumbled, affording Quins an attacking scrum 5. Number 8, Gethin Davies broke left, and Quins started to pound the wall, but another energy-sapping defensive set was completed without loss and the ball was cleared.
Quins appeared to have put themselves into a try-scoring position on 70 minutes when they created an overlap on their left, but the pass was too far in front of centre Dale Ford and the opportunity was wasted.
A terrific 77th minute kick by Quins gave them a lineout in the Newport 22, a 50:22 in the making had it not been for Matt O’Brien’s intervention, but determined defence saw the door bolted and Quins would not score this time. A promising break by centre Eddie James, a unit who caused problems for Newport all afternoon, was followed by a forward pass, letting the Black and Ambers off the hook.
Into stoppage time and Quins were still attacking. A powerful rolling maul, set up from captain Haydn Pugh’s catch, surged towards the Newport line. Backs joined the forwards in heaving the mass of bodies onwards as it crossed the line, the try being credited to replacement hooker Ben Edwards. Crucially, Steff Marshall missed the conversion, making the score Carmarthen Quins 19 Newport 28 and still two scores adrift.
Quins, obviously, could sense a couple of bonus points in the offing and looked to capture them. A good 50:22 kick from scrumhalf Rhodri Davies put his team into position but they instantly blew the opportunity when the lineout was fumbled by replacement Aron Hemmings.
With the clock reading 89 minutes, a Quins knock on saw Newport whip the ball wide to Will Talbot-Davies whose kick ahead bobbled horribly for the Quins defence but was ultimately carried into touch by Rhodri Davies. Newport sought to close the game out, but the rolling maul was downed as Quins flanker Nic Cudd wrapped his arms around the ball and halted progress, as he did successfully on many occasions in his professional days with the Dragons.
There was time to restart but with only seconds to play, the win was in the bag and the five points were loaded back onto the Newport Bus-provided transport for a night of end-of-season beers and revelry which absolutely nobody would have denied our hard-working squad.
Final score – Carmarthen Quins RFC 19 Newport RFC 28
If somebody had put it to Newport supporters, following our second loss to Pontypridd within five games during August and September 2021, that the club would go on to beat Cardiff four times, finish second in the league pushing the eventual champions every inch of the way, and, of course, win the cup, well, they would have been laughed out of town. Yet here we are, and it’s a great testament to coaches, players, and management that there was a sense of disappointment that the squad couldn’t have gone and won everything! The expectation levels have certainly been raised for next season already. Hopefully, the coaches can complete their “shopping” satisfactorily, and the playing staff rest well over the summer.
There is one event to finish this season off, the Newport RFC End of Season dinner is coming up on Saturday June 11th and will be sure to prove popular this year. It will be held at the Tony Brown Suite at Rodney Parade and is always a great night. It should be something a bit special this time! For ticket details, please email Kevin Jarvis on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everybody at the club wishes you a wonderful summer! Hopefully there will be plenty to look forward to next season when the class of 2022-2023 assembles for pre-season training. The club are working on pre-season friendlies already and they will be announced in due course when details are finalised.
Onwards and upwards, Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Newport RFC Man of the Match – Henry Palmer
Final Score – Carmarthen Quins RFC 19 Newport RFC 28