Newport RFC v Cardiff RFC 30th September 2023 by John Evans
A week to reflect on the suffocation at the hands of Cardiff RFC, then look forward to fresh challenges. Swansea RFC, arriving at Newport Stadium for an Indigo Premier League game would surely provide that.
Newport were much-changed from the last outing, players like Joe Westwood, Barney Langton-Cryer and Oli Andrew were given an opportunity to shine at the Dragons, while Matt O’Brien was, understandably, detained by his day job with the professional side. Various other injuries and unavailability issues made sure that Newport would have to look deep into their squad to be competitive against the Whites.
Carwyn Penny kicked off with Newport attacking the SDR end of Newport Stadium, Swansea returning the kick to touch inside the Newport half.
A terrific steal by Garin Harris on 2 minutes launched Newport into an attack. A kick ahead by Luke Crane had Lloyd Lewis in pursuit but the ball bounced agonisingly above his outstretched hands as he grabbed at thin air with the line ahead of him.
Newport were making all the early running with only handling errors giving Swansea a sniff of possession. The Black and Ambers were caught offside, however, giving Swansea’s outside half, Rhys Jones, the chance for a shot at goal. A good kick, only drifting to the left of the posts.
Swansea soon got noses ahead on 12 minutes with a try through wing Matthew Jenkins. There was good movement and intelligent space-finding by the visitors in dark blue. No. 8 Cai Davies bashed a path through the middle of the Newport defence and Rhys Jones did well to spot Jenkins with space out to the left, leaving the wing the job of cantering in for the game’s opening try. Jones converted the same to make the score Newport 0 Swansea 7.
Swansea soon ceded territory when penalised at a ruck. Carwyn Penny belted Newport to the corner for Ben Roach to set the rolling maul, but the Swansea forwards got amongst Newport but knocked on themselves. Newport had an attacking scrum to work from and set about battering the Whites. Phase upon phase as big lad ran into big lad. Josh Skinner was a willing workhorse, Rhys Jenkins popping up at makeshift scrum half, Elliot Ferriman got a pass away from contact to Steff Gibson on the Newport wing. The Black and Ambers maintained possession, Elliot Frewen like Billy Whizz in mid-air as his legs kept motoring despite being off the ground in a tackle. Eventually, Carwyn Penny spotted Lloyd Lewis lingering out wide, boomed the pass out and allowed the pacy wingman to scamper over for Newport’s first try of the afternoon. Penny added the two-pointer, equalising the score at 7 points apiece on 18 minutes.
Newport sought to take the lead as Jacob Lloyd made ground, but the referee, Mr Elliot Mayor, judged that he had made a double movement on the ground. Swansea kicked themselves clear but overthrew the subsequent lineout giving Newport another platform to attack from. Josh Skinner evaded a tackle and carried strongly before Jacob Lloyd, again, punctured the Swansea defence, but the pass to Luke Crane, sprinting in support, was frustratingly loose and the opportunity was gone.
Swansea struggled to clear their lines and Newport were quick to capitalise. As an attacking scrum wheeled right, Ben Roach broke left. Fingertip passing from Luke Crane put Lloyd Lewis in at the opposite corner to his first try as Newport took the lead. Carwyn Penny slotted the conversion to make the score Newport 14 Swansea 7 on 27 minutes.
The restart wasn’t great for Newport as the ball sailed above Josh Skinner’s outstretched arms. Steff Gibson was forced to backtrack, by which time the Whites were on top of him. The ball found its way to touch but the Swansea rolling maul was collapsed illegally by Newport, so the visitors could set and go again. Swansea’s rolling maul was solid and hooker Owen Thomas was the beneficiary as he crashed over with the ball. Rhys Jones added the two-pointer to make the score 14-14 on 31 minutes.
The half somewhat petered out as neither team appeared especially interested in going into the changing rooms at halftime in the lead. Both sides were guilty of crabbing side to side, knocking on and reforming the scrum. Someone needed to take this game by the scruff of the neck. Let’s hope that someone was wearing Black and Amber.
Half Time Newport RFC 14 Swansea RFC 14
Rhys Jones restarted for Swansea, the ball sailing towards Lloyd Lewis. Newport kicked the ball infield to challenge Swansea to come onto them, and it worked as the Whites were pinged. Carwyn Penny kicked to the corner. Newport managed to rescue the lineout but the Swansea defence was firm. Carwyn Penny spotted a half-gap on the left, putting in a kick for Lloyd Lewis to chase, but it was slightly ahead of the winger. Swansea lineout complete, Josh Skinner managed to charge down the clearing kick, but the Black and Ambers couldn’t turn the screw and another strong position went begging.
Swansea centre Joe Thomas was causing havoc in the Newport defence as he twisted and turned in attack, breaking through a sturdy Black and Amber defence. Newport could count themselves fortunate that his kick ahead, for wing Harvey James to chase, was too heavy and the ball bobbled into touch. Newport won the defensive lineout, but the ball was spilled as the Newport forwards tried to carry the ball away. Swansea now had an attacking scrum just 8 metres out. The Whites went through the phases, sucking the Newport defence in before Rhys Jones spotted a gap on the right for Harvey James to skip through a tackle and dot down on the right-hand side. This made the score Newport 14 Swansea 19 on 50 minutes.
Newport almost struck back straight away; a kick from Carwyn Penny turned into a cracking 50:22 and Newport had a handy attacking platform. Elliot Ferriman took the lineout ball, but, following several heavy drives, hooker Tyler Olding was held-up over the line. No try, Swansea with a goal line kick-out.
Kyle Tayler and Dafydd Buckland were on to replace Josh Reid and Luke Crane before the hour, as Newport continued to attack. Carwyn Penny was displaying a good pass selection as he looked to pick Swansea’s lock, but it wouldn’t open for now.
Disaster struck Newport on 59 minutes as Joe Thomas scored his sides fourth try, securing the try bonus point for the visitors. From a scrum, the Swansea attack ran in support well as they attacked Newport’s left flank. Passes out of contact allowed the move to flow until Thomas had clear air in front of him to hurtle in and score the try. Rhys Jones added the conversion to make the score Newport 14 Swansea 26.
Newport needed to roll their collective sleeves up. What they didn’t need was two backs getting in each other’s way and spilling the ball forward, which is what happened. Thankfully, the Whites couldn’t take advantage, but it was symptomatic of how the Black and Ambers afternoon was unfolding.
Swansea were penalised for a high tackle on the 40-metre line. Dafydd Buckland spotted the opportunity and tapped the quick penalty. Iestyn Galton was almost through but couldn’t overcome the last defender. The Newport heavy squad were in quickly to support their mate, securing the ball and launch a series of close thrusts. Lloyd Lewis went close to a third try ,wide out on the right, Ben Roach going even closer as he moved back infield before Carwyn Penny spread the ball left for Elliot Frewen to bustle over the line, using his strength rather than his guile. Carwyn Penny added the conversion to make the score Newport 21 Swansea 26 on 68 minutes.
Sensing a comeback, Newport looked for more. A kick ahead by Lloyd Lewis brought a penalty to Newport as the winger was blocked in his pursuit. Carwyn Penny put Newport in a great position, but the team were let down as the link between hooker and jumpers had fractured and the lineout was loose.
With 77 minutes on the clock, and a victory still a possibility, Newport won a scrum penalty. Carwyn Penny went to the corner again, but, once again, the link between hooker and jumper wasn’t great and a terrific opportunity was lost. Replacement Nick Thomas charged a kick down, but to no avail.
Newport, with too many handling errors and too loose a lineout still had a last gasp chance to snatch the win in added time. Whites replacement Rhodri Lewis danced along the touchline in an attempt to hammer a nail into Newport’s coffin, kicking ahead, but was penalised. Carwyn Penny belted Newport up to the Swansea 10-metre line. The lineout clicked, Newport sparking an attack as Jordan Howells, on for Iestyn Galton, launched his powerful frame at the Whites defence, the chance appeared to be coming as Jacob Lloyd made a pass inside the Swansea 22, only for a despairing defensive hand to knock the ball forward. Penalty and a yellow card? No, said Mr Major, it was the end of the game. Many referees would have given this but, hey, it’s sport and these things happen. They tend to balance out over the course of a season.
It was a disappointing afternoon. Following the loss to Cardiff, a win would have been a tonic to get the team back on track. It wasn’t to be, and they didn’t deserve it. Hopefully, the weekend off next weekend will give the squad a chance to regroup, clear a few bumps and bruises up and come out swinging against Aberavon on October 14th at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
Newport’s next home game is on Saturday October 28th when the Ironmen of Merthyr RFC visit us at Newport Stadium. They’re a formidable side and Newport will need to be at their best to get a victory!
Come on, Newport!
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Final Score – Newport RFC 26 Swansea RFC 21
Newport RFC Player of the Match – Lloyd Lewis