Aberavon 10 – 17 Newport
by Paul Williams
The Wizards’ disappointing run of recent results continued, but Newport can thank two defensive lapses that gifted them a try in each half. In truth illness and injuries disrupted Aberavon’s team selection once again, with a number of late withdrawals exacerbating the situation, but one can rest assured that this would not be offered as an excuse by Jason Hyatt and his coaching team. The main post-match talking point, however, was a controversial call that came early in the second half and affected what remained of the match.
The visitors took an early lead when a driving lineout finished with hooker Henry Palmer touching down beneath a pile of bodies for an unconverted try. Home fly-half Aled Thomas reduced the arrears with a penalty goal, but then a combination of a favourable (from a Newport perspective) bounce and a mix-up in the home defence presented centre Cameron Lewis with a clear run-in to the posts which fly-half Matt O’Brien converted to make the score 3-10 at the interval.
The home side seemed to raise their game in the second half, although play continued to be littered with errors from both sides as the bitterly cold conditions affected handling. Certainly the Aberavon pack were clearly gaining the upper hand with their scrummaging prowess beginning to take its toll on their opponents. A period of intense pressure on the visitors’ goal line yielded a succession of penalty awards, with the home side opting to take the scrum option each time, with either a pushover try or penalty try looking increasingly likely.
What followed, however, both mystified and angered the Aberavon camp as a touchline conversation involving an assistant referee and members of the Newport coaching staff saw referee Tom Spurrier walk over to the touchline to join the discussion, the outcome of which was a change to the visitors’ front row with prop Thomas Davies, who had been replaced just a few minutes earlier, returning to the field. Play then continued with passive scrums, despite there being a full complement of front-row players on the field, and although the pressure eventually saw lock Shay Smallman crash over from close range for Thomas’ conversion to reduce the arrears to just two points, there can be no doubt that the Wizards’ strongest attacking weapon had been disarmed.
Ultimately, the Wizards were unable to add to their score, with a corner try for wing Aled Rees being ruled out due to the final pass having been adjudged forward, and had to content themselves with the single losing bonus-point as Ioan Davies all but sealed the win six minutes from time when another bounce of the ball eluded the home defence for the winger to touch down in the right-hand corner.
Aberavon 10 – 17 Newport
Chris Banfield; Gabe Lacey, Joe Thomas, Bradley Roderick (rep Callum Carson 60 min), Aled Rees; Aled Thomas (rep Rhys Jones 66 min), Iwan Temblett (rep Rhodri Cole 60 min); Rhys Fawcett (rep Jordan Walters 55 min), Luke Davies (rep Ieuan Davies 66 min), Geraint James (rep Chris Davies 52 min), Shay Smallman (rep Sam Pailor 66 min), Rhodri Hughes (rep Sam Parris-Williams 49 min), Joe Tomalin-Reeves (capt), Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans.
Gabe Lacey appeared from Porthcawl RFC.
T – Shay Smallman
C – Aled Thomas
P – Aled Thomas
T – Henry Palmer, Cameron Davies, Ioan Davies
C – Matt O’Brien
Man Of The Match:
1 – Chris Banfield
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Luke Davies
03 min: Newport – T – Henry Palmer (0 – 5)
10 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Nathan Evans
13 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (3 – 5)
21 min: Newport – End Yellow Card – Nathan Evans
26 min: Newport – T – Cameron Davies & C – Matt O’Brien (3 – 12)
40 min: Half Time
61 min: Aberavon – T – Shay Smallman & C – Aled Thomas (10 – 12)
74 min: Newport – T – Ioan Davies (10 – 17)
80+5 min: Full Time