Newport find their form

Swansea v Newport

Saturday 22 October 2022 K.O. 2:30pm

For the second consecutive week Newport travelled to the West to face our old friends from Swansea. Whilst last week was a league encounter, this time saw a Premiership Cup game, albeit as part of a 3 team group format in which each team plays each other once. This was Newport’s first match in this tournament but Swansea had already put themselves into a strong position to qualify for the semi-final after beating Llanelli at home by 40-13 in September. Having lost 4 from 4 in their league campaign to date, a win was essential to kick-start the season for 2022 Cup winners Newport and to ensure the possibility of retaining the trophy. After being ahead in last week’s league encounter by 20-3 before a late comeback saw Swansea snatch victory by 24-20, it was clear that both sides would feel a win could be theirs.

As the teams ran onto the famous St. Helens, we were reminded by the match announcer that, with the All Whites of Swansea wearing their original colours of Cardinal Red to celebrate their 150th anniversary season and Newport in their familiar Black and Amber, it was the first time since 1883 that these teams had faced each other whilst wearing those colours. Two great clubs, each with a great history.

Newport outside half Will Reed started the game by kicking off towards St. Helen’s Avenue. Early play was contained around the halfway line until possession was kicked by Swansea to Black and Amber full back David Richards, who needs no invitation to run. Good yards were made, debutant wing Lloyd Lewis got involved and, following an exchange of kicks by both sides, David Richards was tackled just short of the line. However, up popped mobile second row Craig Hudd to squeeze through a gap in the defence to open the scoring with a try, converted by Will Reed. Just 7 minutes on the clock and Swansea 0 Newport 7.

It was now Swansea’s turn to apply pressure and play reached the Newport 22 for the first time. However, when Swansea lost possession, Black and Amber captain Matt O’Brien was able to kick for touch to the halfway line. Back came Swansea but a kick ahead by outside half Dan Edwards saw two Swansea players in an offside position and this time Will Reed was able to clear the danger. Not to be denied, the home side won lineout ball and Dan Edwards sold a dummy, scored  a try and added the extras. 14 minutes and Swansea 7 Newport 7.

Both sides were now making little headway, although the Swansea scrum always looked under pressure. Some good work by Elliot Frewen saw him close to scoring on the left but the home defence held firm and Swansea also had their moments at the other end of the field where our own David Richards was prominent in defence, athletically keeping ball in play from what looked like a Swansea 50:22 kick and later making a try saving tackle in the corner. Not just an attacking player is young Richards by any means!

Half an hour into the game, Dan Edwards had an opportunity to give Swansea the lead with what looked like an easy penalty goal from 25 metres which went wide but minutes later he made no mistake with a second chance. 34 minutes played and the score was now Swansea 10 Newport 7.

The teams continued to work hard, each keen for another score but each defence solid. However, approaching half-time and on halfway, a penalty to Newport enabled Will Reed to find an excellent touch 5 metres from the Swansea line. Young flanker Ryan Woodman took the ball cleanly and an inevitable drive for the line saw prop Garin Harris ground the ball. Will Reed converted and after 40 minutes it was Swansea 10 Newport 14.

At this point supporters expected no further excitement in the first half. However the final play saw another penalty to Newport, another kick by Will Reed down the right, another lineout. Same again? More or less except it was Henry Palmer who grounded the ball. Will Reed again converted and Swansea open side Harri Deaves was shown a yellow card for trying to stop the drive illegally.

Half Time: Swansea 10 Newport 21

Swansea restarted but Newport were soon back on the offensive and a strong scrum saw the Swansea pack going backwards. Initially no. 8 Ben Roach made ground but the move came to nothing although advantage was being played by the referee and Newport had a penalty near the halfway line. Will Reed took play into the Swansea 22 but again progress stalled although at least there was a further penalty. Full of confidence, Newport went down the line and the success of the first half was repeated. A lineout, a drive towards the posts and second row Josh Skinner was credited with the try which Will Reed converted. 5 minutes gone, Swansea 10 Newport 28

A comfortable lead, but as Black and Ambers were taught last week, take nothing for granted! Minds needed to be firmly focussed. And so they were. The game continually to be a good contest, Newport hoping to win, Swansea hoping for another comeback. Neither side looked like making a breakthrough at that point but one good Newport move on the left involving Elliot Frewen and, inevitably, David Richards eventually petered out due to a forward pass.

A high tackle saw Swansea receive a second yellow card, this time for flanker Trystan Davies. Another penalty. Another lineout. Josh Skinner won the ball and there was, of course, another Newport drive for the line but on this occasion the Swansea defence held firm and the threat was eventually cleared.

Newport continued to look the most likely to score and so it was when David Richards – who else – fielded the ball on halfway and started a move which saw Elliot Frewen made good ground on the right. The ball came left and, following good work by Craig Hudd and Ben Roach, captain Matt O’Brien crossed in the left corner. Although Will Reed slipped while attempting the conversion it just crossed the bar and that is all it takes. The travelling support was able to celebrate and relax. 26 minutes gone and Swansea 10 Newport 35

Again the Newport scrum was able to push the Swansea scrum backwards, a sight which must have pleased head coach Ty Morris. The Black and Ambers were again pressing for a further score. Newport pack power again proved vital when, following another lineout and drive, replacement prop Luke Yendle added his name to the scoresheet. For once, and from near the right hand touchline, Will Reed was unable to convert. 29 minutes and Swansea 10 Newport 40

We were now at a similar stage of the game as last week although the Newport lead was greater and those Black and Ambers watching were happy with that. But the Black and Amber players were not yet finished. Swansea’s restart saw its way to David Richards, in superb form today. A 40 metre run by the full back enabled him to put replacement centre Chay Foster-Smith over in the left corner. Will Reed was just wide with the conversion. 32 minutes played Swansea 10 Newport 45

Newport did not look finished yet. From the restart centre Cameron Lewis and then Craig Hudd made ground. Although over the Swansea 10 metre line the ball was eventually lost and an excellent run by wing Tom Florence, switching from right to left, led to fellow wing Matthew Jenkins cross for a consolation try in the left corner. Dan Edwards converted from the touchline. 35 minutes Swansea 17 Newport 45. There was time for replacement Newport flanker Alex Grey to receive a yellow card but just one minute of injury time and no further score.

Full  Time: Swansea 17 Newport 45

Seren y Gêm: David Richards

With Newport looking forward to celebrating its own 150th anniversary very soon, the club hopes that Swansea enjoy their celebrations this season. One hopes there will be many more successful years for both clubs! For Newport there will be relief that the players responded to the disappointment of last week’s loss and that, with the pressure on them to perform, they did so in style.

The next match for your Black and Ambers is next Sunday, October 30th at Rodney Parade against Aberavon. Unbeaten and top of the league, the Wizards will be looking for revenge after losing to Newport in last season’s Cup Final but equally one expects the Black and Ambers to rise to the challenge. Please remember the players need YOUR support. We look forward to seeing you there.

#cotp #YmlaenCasnewydd

Your City. Your Colours. Your Club.