By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea’s hopes adding to their three Welsh National Cup triumphs were ended for this campaign as the Black and Ambers edged a thriller at Rodney Parade.
The All Whites pack looked to dominate the early phases and a powerful scrum forced their Black and Ambers’ counterparts to concede a penalty. Fly half Jac Wilson kicked the three pointer.
Winger Jedd Evans picked up a loose ball following a mistake by the Newport backs, but scrum half Rhodri Wells tried to force a pass to flanker Jack Perkins, who spilled it forward.
Wilson then attempted a drop goal from just inside the Newport half, but his effort swung horribly low and wide of the posts.
The visitors grabbed the first try when centre Ryan Evans took the ball at pace but was wrapped up in the tackle. However, the backs managed to recycle the ball through Jedd Evans, and a clever box kick by Wells was collected by full back Rhys Williams, who dived over the line to score. Wilson converted.
The home side began to attack with some menace as their backs injected pace into proceedings, but a pass went loose and lock Jay Williams dived on the ball to allow the Whites to clear.
A misjudged tackle by flanker Reuben Tucker gifted a penalty to Swansea and Wilson made no mistake with his effort at goal.
Jedd Evans and centre David Watts began an attack, but the forwards were driven back as the move lost momentum. However, Watts then made further yards upfield before number eight Rory Gallagher was held up over the line and then penalised for holding on after the tackle.
Centre Tom Pascoe then made a superb break through the middle and was supported by Tucker, but a forward pass brought an end to the move.
An infringement at the scrum by the Whites’ pack allowed fly half Matt O’Brien to find touch deep inside the twenty-two. The home side took the lineout and hooker Henry Palmer was driven over for a try. O’Brien missed the conversion.
Tucker powered forward from a lineout and found Palmer in support, forcing the visitors offside at the breakdown. O’Brien kicked the resulting penalty goal.
On the stroke of half time the Black and Ambers went in search of a second try, but a loose pass was intercepted by lock Jay Williams, who showed a fantastic turn of pace to sprint 50 metres forward to score. Wilson converted.
Half-time:- Newport 8 Swansea 18
Newport soon put the late first half try behind them as full back Llwarch ap Myrddin and winger Wes Cunliffe sparked a dangerous attack. Replacement centre Haydn Palmer came close to scoring in the corner, but a stray pass sailed into touch.
A clever inside pass almost caught out the All Whites’ defence and the forwards rampaged towards the line, forcing the visitors to kill the ball. O’Brien kicked to the corner, but Swansea managed to steal lineout ball and cleared.
The Whites’ pack was driven backwards at a scrum and gave away a penalty. O’Brien found touch just five metres from the try line and the pack battered the Swansea defence, before Cunliffe and replacement hooker Will Evans were both held up inches short of the line.
From the scrum five, the visitors’ forwards gave away a couple of penalties before the patience of referee Wayne Davies snapped and he awarded a penalty try. O’Brien converted.
Moments later the Whites were penalised for holding on after the tackle, allowing O’Brien to kick his side level.
With nine minutes of normal time left on the clock the visitors’ defence stepped offside in midfield. O’Brien successfully kicked his side ahead for the first time with a penalty goal.
Swansea tried to hit back immediately when replacement full back Josh Jones embarked on a run, but he was turned over and centre Chay Smith turned defence into attack, but he in turn lost possession.
With time running out winger Andrew Claypole tried to sprint forward from inside his own twenty-two. He found Ryan Evans in support, who drew the defender and almost sent Jedd Evans over in the corner, but he lost the ball forward at the crucial moment.
The Black and Ambers did well to prevent Swansea from mounting any further attacks with lock Rhodri Jones and Cunliffe combining in midfield to venture forward. However, the move broke down and referee Davies blew up for full time shortly after.
Next up for Newport is a trip to Bridgend, while Swansea host Bargoed – both in the Principality Premiership Tier 2.
Full-time:- Newport 21 Swansea 18
Tries:- Henry Palmer (32), Penalty try (60)
Cons:- Matt O’Brien (61)
Pens:- Matt O’Brien (37, 63, 71)
Tries:- Rhys Williams (11), Jay Williams (40+1)
Cons:- Jac Wilson (40+2)
Pens:- Jac Wilson (2, 20)
Venue:- Rodney Parade, Newport
Referee:- Wayne Davies
Weather:- Cloudy, 5C
Man of the match:- Henry Palmer
15 Llwarch ap Myrddin (rep: Geraint O’Driscoll 70)
14 Jonathan Morris
13 Tom Pascoe (rep: Haydn Palmer 21)
12 Chay Smith
11 Wes Cunliffe
10 Matt O’Brien
9 Owen Davies
1 James Greenfield (rep: Tom Piper 47)
2 Henry Palmer (rep: Will Evans 47)
3 Garin Harris (rep: John Lavendar 60)
4 Rhodri Jones (rep: Adam Brown 67)
5 Dan Partridge
6 Reuben Tucker
7 Kyle Tayler (rep: Craig Attwell 55)
8 Rhys Jenkins
16 Will Evans
17 Tom Piper
18 John Lavender
19 Craig Attwell
20 Adam Brown
21 Ryan James
22 Geraint O’Driscoll
23 Haydn Palmer
15 Rhys Williams (rep: Josh Jones 17)
14 Andrew Claypole
13 Ryan Evans
12 David Watts ©
11 Jedd Evans
10 Jac Wilson (rep: Rory Garrett 64)
9 Rhodri Wells (rep: Martin Luckwell 70)
1 Richard Murphy (rep: Tom Sloane 47)
2 Ricky Guest (rep: Alex Dunham 70)
3 Mitchell Walsh (rep: Sam Martin 60)
4 Gavin Ronan
5 Jay Williams
6 Adam Thresher
7 Jack Perkins
8 Rory Gallagher
16 Tom Sloane
17 Alex Dunham
18 Sam Martin
19 Chris James
20 Ollie Young
21 Martin Luckwell
22 Rory Garrett
23 Josh Jones