Swansea RFC v Newport RFC 15th October 2022 by John Evans
Following a blank weekend of action for Newport Rugby, it was time to get back into it, take the trip down the M4 and visit the great club that is Swansea RFC. It was a blustery, overcast day on the shores of Swansea Bay and the forecast was for rain, and plenty of it, and some point in the afternoon.
It was interesting to see former Newport player Alex Lawson on the coaching staff at the Whites, joining Hugh Gustafsson and James Hook on the coaching staff at St Helens.
Dan Edwards, the Swansea 10, kicked off, Swansea opting to take advantage of the strong, gusting wind that barrelled down the Mumbles Road and prepared to whip up the discarded takeaway boxes in Wind Street later. The Whites were actually playing in that colour, rather than the navy and/or maroon garb they often rock up in.
Swansea attacked from the outset, going through phases, Harri Ackerman putting in firm tackles, but Newport infringed, allowing Swansea to position themselves in the Newport 22. The maul was set, Whites prop and captain Tom Sloane made a break for the line but was scythed down by Craig Hudd. Newport infringed allowing Swansea to opt for the corner again. However, their lineout wasn’t straight and, compounded with a scrum penalty, Newport could easily clear their lines.
The Black and Amber scrum was in the ascendency as the Swansea front row splintered; Will Reed kicked Newport to the corner, Ryan Woodman took the ball at the tail and Newport set about the White defensive wall. The referee, Mr Gwyn Morris, spotted an infringement at lineout time. Will Reed went to the corner, but the crystals in his radar were still warming up and the ball went dead.
The dropout 22 that occurred as a result was a booming effort that Dai Richards misjudged, as it cannoned off his breastbone. The scrum was penalised for turning allowing Swansea a shot at goal that Dan Edwards slotted to put the home team 3-0 ahead on 9 minutes.
Great work from Kyle Tayler saw Newport regain possession from the restart as the Deck Master did his dark-arts thing. Newport went through the phases before drawing a penalty as home prop Ben Warren ventured over the top of a ruck in search of the ball. Ryan Woodman claimed the lineout ball again, just metres out, but Will Griffiths appeared to overcook the situation at the back of the maul and Newport lost out with, what appeared to be, an accidental offside.
The game stagnated, neither team appearing to want to capitalise on the other’s mistakes. A good 20 minutes passed without anything particularly happening other than another knock-on or pass going astray.
On 29 minutes, Swansea cannoned a ball forward themselves following a Will Reed free kick. Craig Hudd was onto it, Chay Foster-Smith carved a path through the defence before he was halted. Josh Skinner battered his way forward, but the White line wouldn’t be broken. Play went back for a Newport penalty, but Will Reed pushed his effort left of the sticks.
The Swansea dropout was gone with the wind, as the gusts took it and rolled the ball dead. This was a great chance for Newport to start the scoreboard ticking, but following the phases, Craig Hudd found himself isolated. Play opened up as mistake upon mistake found neither side dominant. A moment of beauty occurred when Newport prop Garin Harris manufactured a pass to the supporting Wing Commander, Elliot Frewen, who found himself with some space to work in and charged up to the Swansea 22 metre line. The Swansea defence funnelled back and reset quickly, but play was stopped with an injury to their number 8, Jon Fox, and momentum was lost.
A terrific 50:22 kick by Swansea gave them a platform to attack off, but they were unable to puncture the Newport 22 metre area. Centre Tom Florence tried to create a gap on the main stand side, but stern defence brought him down, Will Reed demonstrating his commitment by getting around the tackle in a manner that would please any loose forward, before Josh Skinner arrived to gather the ball and Luke Crane kick dead, bringing an error-strewn half to an end.
As the teams ran off the field in sheeting rain, the stadium PA relayed the sounds of Bon Jovi and their magnum opus “Keep the Faith”. The timing was outstanding.
Half Time Swansea RFC 3 Newport RFC 0
Harri Ackerman was relieved of duty in the second half, as the Reed – O’Brien axis was restored, and it paid dividends after just four minutes of the half. Swansea infringed and Reed was prompted to go to the corner, Ryan Woodman took the lineout ball and set up the ruck. It rocked and rolled before Luke Crane launched the ball wide. Matt O’Brien put in a grubber kick for Chay Foster-Smith to chase and dot down just before the ball reached the dead-ball line. Will Reed added the conversion to make it Swansea 3 Newport 7 on 44 minutes.
Swansea kept possession for a good five or six minutes but were utterly unable to pierce the Newport defence as a superb rear-guard from the Black and Ambers eventually forced scrum-half Matthew Aubtry to become isolated as Matt O’Brien lodged himself over the ball to gain the relieving penalty.
Newport were beginning to click as the Puppet Master took charge, mixing up attack methodology, ensuring that the Swansea defence remained honest. A cross-kick to Jonny Morris, on the terrace-side wing, was regathered before a second kick across to Ben Roach, lurking with intent on the stand side, may have resulted in a score had Roach been able to gather the ball cleanly. Play was called back to a penalty given by Mr Morris. Woodman did his job in the lineout again before prop Josh Reynolds put in a powerful drive to get Newport close. Swansea infringed again, so Will Reed pointed at the posts to extend Newport’s lead to 3-10 on 54 minutes.
Dai Richards dinked a superb kick which rolled into the Swansea 22 before stopping. Swansea fullback Iestyn Hopkins set off with Dai Richards bearing down on him. Will Griffiths arrived to double up on the tackle, before hitting the deck having taken Hopkins’ elbow to the face. Puzzlingly, Mr Morris decided that Griffiths’ tackle was of the ‘no-arms’ variety and warranted a yellow card, while the forearm smash that had him seeing stars, Tom and Jerry-style, was absolutely fine.
Another Dai Richards monster kick which rolled into the dead ball area prompted a moment of madness amongst the Whites’ back three. The hugely rash decision to run the ball with the Newport cavalry bearing down upon them was justly rewarded. The Black and Amber defence smothered him, reclaimed the ball and powered into the White jerseys. Josh Reynolds did well to get a pass away to Josh Skinner, but it was interfered with, drawing another penalty. Will Reed extended the Newport lead with a simple-looking penalty that made it Swansea 3 Newport 13 on 67 minutes.
Ryan Woodman was pinged on 69 minutes for not rolling away, in reality he was pinned, allowing Swansea to go to the corner themselves. However, as the phases wore on, Swansea were looking less and less likely to score as they ran out of both bodies and ideas. Will Reed eventually got over a tackle and won Newport a relieving penalty.
Swansea were trying to launch attacks from deep, but a searching kick ahead was met by Newport replacement Ioan Davies who converted it into an epic 50:22. Dan Hill, on for Josh Skinner, took the ball at the tail before a dynamic rolling maul edged Newport closer to the line. Replacement prop Tom Workman was the beneficiary as he touched down, to the obvious delight of his father, team manager Mark. Will Reed added the conversion to make the score Swansea 3 Newport 20 with 74 minutes played.
What happened next will take some unravelling.
Che Smith’s kick ahead was charged down and regathered by Swansea’s Morgan Morse who had support flying up to his right. The ball came infield to Harvey Nash who skated over the line for a well-taken try. Dan Edwards added the conversion to make the score Swansea 10 Newport 20 on 77 minutes.
OK, no worries, it’s a consolation prize for them
The game entered added time as Newport restarted. So far, so good. Swansea kicked long and Newport had an innocuous line out just inside their half. Che Hope kicked long in response, Whites’ fullback Harry Houston skipped through would-be tacklers before off-loading to the ground. The ball rolled somewhat, nobody in Black and Amber especially reacting. Iestyn Hopkins, the Whites’ fullback reacted, though. He scooped the ball up and set off, passing to Luke Scully who dashed through untouched to bring the score to Swansea 17 Newport 20, once Dan Edwards’ conversion had been completed.
Squeaky bum time.
Swansea had the opportunity to go for gold. A late tackle was penalised and allowed Swansea to kick for position. They played the phases knowing full well that they could play all evening, if they liked, provided they didn’t make a mistake. A booming pass right to Hopkins moved the Whites into the Newport 22 as their forwards scented blood. They continued in the same vein until space was worked on the left for wing Matthew Jenkins to power through a tackle and claim the winning try. Dan Edwards added the conversion to ensure that Newport snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
Our team’s inability to hold a 17-point lead gives cause for concern. An unexpected win for Bridgend, at home to Ebbw Vale, lifted them off the league basement and placed Newport firmly into it.
The words of Mr Bon Jovi seem quite prescient at the moment.
Full Time: Swansea RFC 24 Newport RFC 20
Newport are next back in action on Saturday when we have a repeat visit to the Whites of Swansea. This time, though, it’s a cup round and the defence of the trophy that we won in April begins. We’re running a bus again, so, if you’d like to travel with us then please email Steve at email@example.com. Come along and support the boys!
Following that, Newport have a ‘home’ fixture, at Rodney Parade when they face the high-flying Wizards of Aberavon. They are playing very well this season, and this will be a real challenge for our squad. This game will be played on Sunday October 30th, kick-off at 2.30pm
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Newport RFC Man of the Match ; Craig Hudd
Final Score – Swansea RFC 24 Newport RFC 20