Newport 30 – 20 Aberavon
by Paul Williams
Newport were allowed a rare opportunity to stage a home game at their historic home of Rodney Parade, which seemed to act as a spur as they picked up their first league win of the season, at the same time inflicting a first defeat of the season on the Wizards.
The home side kicked off and while the ball was safely fielded by Jay Baker, it was somehow turned over at a subsequent phase, and while that led eventually to an aimless crosskick into touch from fly-half Will Reed, it kept play in the Aberavon half and eventually centre Matt O’Brien threaded through a grubber kick for midfield partner Cameron Lewis to touch down, with Reed adding the conversion.
Aberavon seized the initiative from the restart with Joe Gage leading the charge, but Newport were able to briefly clear their lines, only for the Wizards to counter from within their own 22 with wing Frankie Jones showing his pace along the touchline before putting in a kick ahead for Gage to chase. Sadly for the Wizards, however, the Rodney Parade in-goal area isn’t the biggest, and the ball rolled harmlessly over the dead-ball line. Soon afterwards a typical Andrew Waite charge was halted inches from the goal-line, but that elusive score continued to elude the Wizards until relentless pressure on the home line earned a penalty that yielded three points from the boot of Aled Thomas, but that was quickly cancelled out when Reed responded in kind, and that was then followed by a period of Newport pressure that ended when Kyle Tayler was driven over from a lineout for Reed to again convert.
As half-time approached, the Wizards’ scrum as usual proved a potent weapon as a series of penalties against the home front-row led to a yellow card for prop Garin Harris, and with the referee playing advantage after yet another scrum was halted illegally, Waite shot away with the ball, was tackled just short of the line but Ashton Evans was on hand to pick up and crash over for Thomas to convert, making the scoreline 17-10 at the interval, although Thomas had in the dying seconds of the half been shown a yellow card having been adjudged to have tackled an opponent in the air.
The home side began the second half with a sweeping attack that ended with number eight Ben Roach crossing for a try that Reed again converted, and then a lengthy period of Aberavon pressure saw Newport desperately but successfully defend until they were able to break out and earn a penalty that Reed goaled to make it 27-10. It looked to be a commanding lead, but the Wizards were not yet ready to throw in the towel, and it was once again that dominant scrum that, once field position had been secured, proved to be their most potent weapon against a solid home defence. With yet another scrum disintegrating and the referee playing advantage, Andrew Waite broke away and produced a superb backhanded offload to Ashton Evans to crossed for his second try, this time unconverted.
With time fast running out, another Reed penalty made it 30-15, but the Wizards were to have the final word when quick passing along the backline saw Stef Andrews go over in the right-hand corner in the dying seconds.
With club rugby taking a weekend off with the arrival of the Autumn Internationals, it is perhaps an opportunity for the Wizards to recharge the batteries and reflect on the season thus far and the fact that there is still a great deal of rugby to be played, before relaunching their campaign at home to Ebbw Vale on Friday, November 11th.
Newport 30 – 20 Aberavon
Stef Andrews; Frankie Jones (rep Aled Rees 58 min), Bradley Roderick, Joe Gage (capt), Jay Baker (rep Jonathan Phillips 48 min); Aled Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rhys Fawcett (rep Rowan Jenkins 50 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies 50 min), Chris Davies (rep Geraint James 50 min), Shay Smallman, Sam Parris-Williams (rep Sam Pailor 57 min), Ashton Evans, Andrew Waite, Lloyd Evans (rep Joe Tomalin-Reeves 58 min).
Replacement Not Used:
T – Ashton Evans (2), Stef Andrews
C – Aled Thomas
P – Aled Thomas
T – Cameron Lewis, Kyle Taylor, Ben Roach
C – Will Reed (3)
P – Will Reed (3)
Man Of The Match:
1 – Ashton Evans
2 – Andrew Waite
3 – Rhodri Cole
04 min: Newport – T – Cameron Lewis & C – Will Reed (7 – 0)
18 min: Aberavon – PG – Aled Thomas (7 – 3)
21 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (10 – 3)
28 min: Newport – T – Kyle Taylor & C – Will Reed (17 – 3)
37 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Garin Harris
38 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans & C – Aled Thomas (17 – 10)
40+7 min: Aberavon – Yellow Card – Aled Thomas
40+7 min: Newport – End Yellow Card – Garin Harris
40+8 min: Half Time
44 min: Newport – T – Ben Roach & C – Will Reed (24 – 10)
46 min: Aberavon – End Yellow Card – Aled Thomas
56 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (27 – 10)
69 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Ben Roach
73 min: Aberavon – T – Ashton Evans (27 – 15)
78 min: Newport – PG – Will Reed (30 – 15)
80+1 min: Newport – End Yellow Card – Ben Roach
80+7 min: Newport – Yellow Card – Kyle Tayler
80+8 min: Aberavon – T – Stef Andrews (30 – 20)
80+8 min: Full Time