Newport v Aberavon
Sunday 30 October 2022 K.O. 2:30pm
By Russell Jones
After winning their first match of the season last week at Swansea in a Welsh Premiership Cup game, Newport were today hoping to open their account in the league at Rodney Parade, their 2nd home following the move last season to Newport Stadium. No better place or day to do it than on the 59th anniversary of the club’s victory against the mighty New Zealand at Rodney Parade, probably the greatest win by a club side – ever. However, today’s opponents Aberavon would be a formidable obstacle having won 6 out of 6 in the league and no doubt looking for revenge after a narrow defeat to the Black and Ambers in last season’s Cup Final.
The Newport players ran onto the field led by club stalwarts, Elliot Frewen and Kyle Tayler. For Elliot, already inducted into the Newport Hall of Fame, it was a remarkable 200th game in Black and Amber stretching back to 2011. In turn Kyle was making his 100th appearance for the club since his debut in 2015. Congratulations to these popular and respected players from all connected with Newport RFC.
Newport outside half Will Reed kicked-off to the school end. Both Kyle Tayler and Elliot Frewen were prominent in early play and, when the Aberavon no. 8 Andrew Waite was penalised at a ruck, Will Reed found a good touch. From the lineout the Black and Ambers moved the ball to the right and, with the Aberavon defence up quickly, captain Matt O’Brien put the cleverest of grubber kicks through which fellow centre Cameron Lewis was alert to, gathered, and went over for a fine try. Will Reed added the extras. 3 minutes on the clock and it was Newport 7 Aberavon 0.
Aberavon responded straight from the kick off when Wizards’ centre Joe Gage was first up to gain possession but eventually the ball crossed the touchline and, with home second row Ryan Woodman winning the lineout, scrum half Luke Crane was able to clear. Aberavon kept the pressure on with a kick and chase only to see the ball cross the deadball line and soon afterwards Andrew Waite was stopped just short of the line. Not to be denied a score, a lineout win and forward drive saw Newport penalised in front of the posts and Wizards’ outside half Aled Thomas, formerly of this parish, made no mistake. 15 minutes played and Newport 7 Aberavon 3.
Would we get a reaction from Newport? Yes we would. From the restart the Black and Ambers started to press and Aberavon were penalised for a high tackle on Will Reed. Following treatment, the sturdy young man slotted over a penalty goal from some 45 metres. 17 minutes gone and it was now Newport 10 Aberavon 3.
Aberavon were soon back in the home half but a good run by wing Jay Baker came to nothing and Newport full back Ioan Davies was able to counter. From a scrum Matt O’Brien kicked the ball left and Aberavon full back Stef Andrews was put into touch by Elliot Frewen. Lineouts followed, both won by Ryan Woodman, and from the second a powerful forward drive saw Kyle Tayler ground the ball for Newport’s 2nd try of the afternoon, converted by Will Reed. 27 minutes and Newport 17 Aberavon 3.
From the restart Newport were again looking confident and Matt O’Brien and Will Reed were both prominent before the ball was lost and Ioan Davies needed to tidy up. Back came Aberavon for a series of scrums in the Newport 22. The Newport scrum was under some pressure at this point and referee Rhys Jones lost patience and showed the first yellow card of the game to tight head Garin Harris. Aberavon, of course, opted for another scrum and flanker Ashton Evans grounded the ball for a try, converted by Aled Thomas. 37 minutes played and Newport 17 Aberavon 10.
Newport were up against it at this point but a 7 man scrum held firm and the ball was retrieved quickly by Luke Crane, allowing wing Lloyd Lewis to make good ground. Quick ball from another scrum saw Luke Crane stopped just short of the line. Naturally Aberavon responded and, although a high kick was taken well in the air by Elliot Frewen, he was also taken out by Aberavon’s Aled Thomas who earned himself a yellow card just before the first half drew to a close after 7 minutes added on.
Half Time: Newport 17 Aberavon 10
The match restarted without Newport’s abrasive flanker George Young, playing his 1st match of the season after injury, having been replaced by Craig Hudd. Within minutes Kyle Tayler returned to the field and the home side were back at full strength and back on the attack. Good lineout ball saw Newport move the ball to Elliot Frewen on the right before the pack took over. Play went left to in-form no. 8 Ben Roach who was able to cross for his team’s 3rd try. Reliable Will Reed converted from wide on the left. 4 minutes of the 2nd half played and it was now Newport 24 Aberavon 10.
Although a couple of scores ahead at this point, Newport were never complacent and nor could they afford to be against a team of Aberavon’s quality. There were changes in the Newport side: Jack Gillard for Henry Palmer (blood replacement), Chay Foster-Smith for Cameron Lewis and Luke Yendle for Garin Harris. Aberavon pressed at times but sound defensive work held them at bay. Elliot Frewen was threatening whenever he had the ball and one big tackle by Josh Skinner stopped the Wizards in their tracks. The deadlock was finally broken when Aberavon were penalised and Will Reed made no mistake from 40 metres out. 15 minutes played and Newport 27 Aberavon 10.
Time for more Newport replacements, Dafydd Buckland for Luke Crane and Josh Reid for Craig Hudd, himself a replacement at half time. The Black and Ambers had built up a good lead but there was still time left for Aberavon to get back into the game. The Wizards applied pressure, especially at the scrum, in a bid to get back into the match but Newport’s defence was resolute. Back came the Black and Ambers with a burst by Chay Foster -Smith taking play to the opposition but Newport were penalised and Aberavon were able to clear.
The excellent Josh Skinner stole possession at the lineout on Aberavon’s throw but seemed to be subjected to a high tackle. At this point both teams decided to get to know each other better and, once the referee was able to restore order and consult his official, there was a penalty decision in favour of Newport. However, the balance of the game was disrupted when Ben Roach perhaps unluckily was shown a yellow card around the half hour mark. Aberavon were able to go back on the attack and, at a 5 metre scrum, Aberavon went forwards, Newport went backwards and flanker Ashton Evans crashed over for his 2nd try. Unexpectedly Aled Thomas missed the conversion. The Black and Ambers were still comfortable after 34 minutes with the score Newport 27 Aberavon 15.
Newport regained possession from the kick-off but Josh Reid was harshly judged to have knocked-on. The supporters would have been concerned but the 7 man Newport scrum belied those fears and Aberavon were this time penalised. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Will Reed stepped up and put the ball between the posts from 43 metres out. 37 minutes played, Newport 30 Aberavon 15.
There was no time to relax as Aberavon pressed for what would be surely only be a losing bonus point. By now Jonny Morris was on for Lloyd Lewis and Ben Roach had returned to the battle. Again Josh Skinner stole lineout ball and Newport made progress to halfway. The ball was lost but turned over by Ben Roach. Matt O’Brien put in a superb crossfield kick to replacement wing Jonny Morris who made ground before Dafydd Buckland joined in although ultimately the move fizzled out. 3 minutes into added time, was there more to come?
On came Newport’s final replacement, prop Joe Popple for Thomas Davies but it was Aberavon who had the last word. After a final yellow card of the afternoon, this time for Newport’s Kyle Tayler, a quickly taken penalty saw Aberavon Stef Andrews go over for a try in the corner. With the clock ticking, the same player hurriedly took, and missed, the conversion attempt. The final whistle sounded after 8 minutes of added time.
Full Time: Newport 30 Aberavon 20
Seren y Gêm: Will Reed
A fine win then for Newport against top of the table Aberavon and the coaches will be pleased with a 2nd consecutive win. There is a lot of rugby still to be played this season and plenty to play for in both the League and Cup.
The next match for your Black and Ambers is on Saturday, November 12th away to Carmarthen Quins. The players always appreciate the travelling support and we hope to see as many as possible there cheering on YOUR Black and Ambers. We look forward to seeing you.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club.