Llandovery RFC v Newport RFC 1st October 2022 by John Evans
Following the two disappointing results for the Black and Ambers so far this season, supporters travelled to mid-Wales hoping to see some bouncebackability from the squad. Unfortunately, Matt O’Brien picked up an injury in training, restricting his involvement to water-carrying duties only. In Matt’s absence, it was Josh Skinner that was given the captaincy for the day.
Ironically, just as the match announcer gave thanks for it being a dry day, a scud of rain hovered over the area, just making sure that the top of the pitch was slippery and wet! Thankfully, it soon pushed through, leaving a gusting wind for the players to deal with.
Kieran Meek kicked off, with Newport defending the clubhouse end and playing into the wind. Both teams probed and pushed, but it was the Drovers who made territory first. Ryan Woodman did well to take the lineout ball, only for home captain Jack Jones to be pinged for collapsing the maul. Woodman did his job well again, Luke Crane box-kicked, but Drovers wing Aaron Warren was able to field the ball under pressure from Elliot Frewen. However, the chance to recover the ball was lost when Newport went off their feet at the ensuing ruck.
Henry Palmer mopped up an overthrown lineout on 6 minutes, Cameron Lewis carrying the ball on before Kieran Meek skipped through a dog-leg and Newport were away. Josh Skinner was acting as a crash-ball centre before Llandovery flanker Jordan Evans felt compelled to seal off the ball at a ruck to slow Newport down. Meek kicked Newport into the Drovers 22. A set play brought Cole Swannack off his wing at speed, but the Llandovery loose forwards were expecting him. Newport kept up the pressure with a terrific lineout steal by Ryan Woodman. Dai Richards put in a long kick for Swannack to chase, which Llandovery, dealt with well. Josh Skinner picked the ball out of mid-air to relaunch an attack, but the Llandovery forwards were well-drilled in getting to the contact area in numbers and flooding the area, making it tricky for Luke Crane to get the ball away quickly.
Newport were in the ascendency in the scrum as props Joshua Reynolds and Nathan Evans had their opposite numbers in all sorts of trouble at times. It paid dividends on 10 minutes when the Llandovery scrum folded, and Newport gained a penalty. An intricate triangulated passing move was spoiled as the Drovers knocked it on. Another scrum and Newport set about the phases as they softened up the Drovers defence. The big boys like Roach and Skinner made inroads, but the backs contributed too, Kieran Meek carving lines but meeting with stubborn resistance. Eventually, Llandovery were lured off their feet in a tackle allowing Meek a simple opportunity to register a score, accurately kicking a 20-metre penalty, making the score Llandovery 0 Newport 3 on 14 minutes.
Llandovery took a quick tap penalty, eschewing the chance to get equal with a kick, but the ball, whipping out to Aaron Warren on the wing, but the big man was hustled into touch by Cole Swannack, and their chance vanished.
Will Griffiths came on to replace Henry Palmer, due to injury, but was under the pump straight away when Llandovery booted a penalty to the corner. Second row Joe Powell, jumping at the tail, took the ball and set the maul. Newport got the initial shove, but hooker Craig Thomas latched onto the tail of the maul and steered his pack home crossing for the first try of the afternoon. Ben Roach had circled around the maul and received a yellow card for his troubles. The conversion was missed making the score Llandovery 5 Newport 3 on 22 minutes.
Newport responded, despite being down to 14 players. Will Griffiths was lively, hitting the defence hard, before the phases came. Llandovery drifted offside earning the Black and Ambers another kickable penalty. Kieran Meek took his opportunity and restored Newport’s lead, making it Llandovery 5 Newport 6 on 29 minutes.
Newport went really close on 31 minutes when the front row put their power on and earned another penalty. Kieran Meek punted Newport to the corner for Ryan Woodman to take the lineout ball. Harri Ackerman, the impressive 17-year-old, muscled his way forward and spearheaded the attack. Dai Richards put in an impeccable grubber for Elliot Frewen to hare after. It looked set for a try but, sadly, the ball was fumbled with the line at his mercy and Llandovery were off the hook.
Llandovery regained the lead when fullback Jack Maynard kicked a penalty from 41 metres, straight in front of the posts, making the score Llandovery 8 Newport 6 on 36 minutes.
Llandovery frustrated Newport by getting numbers to the contact area and winning field position. Dai Richards did really well keeping the ball in play and skip out of contact but, as the ball was lost going forward, the referee, Mr Aled Evans, blew for halftime.
Half Time Llandovery RFC 8 Newport RFC 6
Ioan Hughes, the Llandovery outside half, restarted the game with Newport now in a position to use the wind, and, very quickly, Kieran Meek did just that, but Newport couldn’t use it, despite Will Griffith’s best efforts.
Josh Skinner was replaced on 48 minutes by Dan Hill with Skinner sporting a massive shiner. The game was opening up but there were too many mistakes from reliable players, so the Black and Ambers failed to capitalise. It came to Dan Hill to win Newport a penalty for Kieran Meek to position Newport beautifully. The maul was well set up and powered forward. It didn’t take long for Mr Evans to run to the posts awarding Newport a penalty try as Llandovery clambered all over Newport, attempting to disrupt the drive. Like Ben Roach earlier, hooker Craig Thomas had a yellow card waved at him, Newport now taking an 8-13 lead over the hosts on 52 minutes.
Will Griffiths was shown a yellow card on the hour for a tackle on Ioan Hughes which, as far as anyone could tell, was for taking the player ‘over the horizontal’. Or something.
Jack Maynard booted Llandovery into Newport’s 22 for Joe Powell, the second row, to take the lineout and set up an excellent maul. The power had Newport in trouble as the maul marched forwards and nearer the posts until it was brought to a halt. The Drovers then went through the phases, Newport defending well, but there came a point where they simply ran out of numbers and Llyr Green picked a spot which looked almost un-defendable, just in the corner next to the right hand upright. Jack Maynard added the conversion to make the score Llandovery 15 Newport 13 on 71 minutes.
Dafydd Buckland replaced Luke Crane at scrum half and almost created a score when he scythed through a gap before releasing Elliot Frewen, who had Ben Roach sprinting in support. Roach was released but the pass was judged to be forward by Mr Evans.
The noise from the Newport coaching team, in the stand, was rising as the frustration was beginning to tell. Llandovery had Newport pinned in their own half as the game petered out and Newport could do very little about it.
Full Time: Llandovery RFC 15 Newport RFC 13
Newport have a blank Saturday next week and are next in action on Saturday 15th October where the visit the Whites of Swansea RFC in an Indigo Group Premiership game. We’re running a bus again so if you’d like to travel with us then please email Steve at email@example.com. We’re there again the following weekend for a Premiership Challenge Cup game, so come along and support the boys!
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Newport RFC Man of the Match – Ryan Woodman
Final Score – Llandovery RFC 15 Newport RFC 13