4:58pm Sunday 29th September 2013
By Iwan Gabe Davies
NEWPORT remain rooted to the bottom of the Principality Premiership after going down to league and cup double champions Pontypridd but they will take some heart at the courage they showed against Wales’ best club side.
The Black and Ambers made a real game of it at Sardis Road despite being outgunned and out scrummaged as they suffered their third league defeat in a row this season.
But Ponty’s victory wasn’t secured until the dying minutes when they ran away with it with two converted tries as the Black and Ambers refused to throw in the towel in an entertaining match broadcast live on S4C.
The Newport scrum was under intense pressure from the start as Ponty shoved them off their own ball and the visitors conceded a penalty in the opening minutes after visiting skipper Lee Beach was forced to tidy up poor possession.
The hosts’ fly half Simon Humberstone made no mistake, slotting the ball through the posts for a 3-0 lead.
But a series of Ponty errors gave Newport full back Geraint O’Driscoll a chance to square things and he made no mistake, slotting over his penalty attempt with a handsome effort.
The Black and Ambers were being invited back into the game by some uncharacteristic Ponty errors but the visitors’ scrum was under horrific pressure and stopped them building a platform.
The home side looked to play their attractive high intensity game and it was only some heroic last ditch defence by the visitors which kept them out on more than one occasion.
In fairness to Newport, their scrum did improve as the game went into the second quarter, although it was frequently left to Beach at number eight to make the best of iffy ball.
Ponty’s doubt and frustration was palpable as the home crowd began to turn on their heroes as they failed to capitalise on possession, territory and opportunity after opportunity to score.
The dam did bust in the 26th minute however when full back Adam Thomas squeezed over in the corner – following a suspiciously forward pass in a proceeding move – as Ponty regained the lead, marvellously converted from the touchline by Humberstone.
It was an error-strewn first half as Ponty also had the jitters, struggling to get their lineout functioning.
Newport were showing plenty of guts to stay in the game and a superb long-range penalty by O’Driscoll seven minutes before the interval closed the gap to 10-6.
Ponty bombed another couple of try-scoring chances before half-time which ended with the hosts just four points ahead although they really should have been out of sight.
Newport had fleetingly threatened, outside half Matt O’Brien and centre Tyler Morgan looked dangerous while openside flanker Craig Attwell, lock Adam Frampton and Beach worked their hearts out, but they were just hanging on in there.
Newport’s scrum started creaking again early in the second 40 minutes which was crippling them.
They were lucky that Ponty were again proving to be wasteful as they kept butchering their chances although the Black and Ambers were putting up a spirited resistance.
But a team as good as the hosts couldn’t keep failing to press home their advantage, centre Gavin Dacey exploiting an overlap to cross in the corner, Humberstone converting for a 17-6 advantage after 50 minutes.
Newport refused to thrown in the towel and they turned down an easy three points by opting for a driving lineout which they failed to score, the decision referred to the S4C television match official, from but managed to reduce Ponty to 14 men when lock Lee Williams was sin binned.
Again they opted for a driving lineout but the home side kept them out a little too easily.
But persistence paid off when loosehead prop Dai Pattison was driven over as the game entered the last quarter.
O’Driscoll missed the conversion but Newport were back in it 17-11.
Ponty hit back almost immediately when inside centre Dafydd Lockyer scythed through the visitors’ midfield before passing to Dacey who crossed for his second try, Humberstone converting.
Again Newport refused to capitulate and wing Tom James crossed for a sparkling try just over ten minutes from the end, a superb touchline conversion by O’Driscoll reducing the arrears to 24-18.
A frantic finale saw Newport, who lost Gethin Robinson to the sin bin, threaten to pull off an unlikely smash and grab but replacement Rhys Williams crossed at the end to give Ponty their bonus point win and deny Newport a losing bonus point.
Tom Hetherington rubbed in the salt with a further converted try just before the end.
Pontypridd: A Thomas, A Webber, G Dacey, D Lockyer, G Wyatt, S Humberstone, L Williams (T Williams 57), J Howe, H Dowden (R Williams 25), K Jenkins, L Williams (J Sieniawski 67), C Dicomidis (capt), L Crocker, T Young (T Hetherington 64), D Godfrey.
Replacements: D Flanagan, G Williams, L Jones, S Williams.
Pontypridd scorers: Tries – Adam Thomas , Gavin Dacey (2), Rhys Williams, Tom Hetherington, Conversions – Simon Humberstone (5) , Penalty – S Humberstone
Newport: G O'Driscoll, E Frewen, D Robinson (D Franchi 60), T Morgan, T James, M O'Brien (E Davies 60), A Quick (J Leadbeater 50) D Pattison (N Williams 69), D Rogers (J Jeune 68), A Jeffries (G Robinson 46), A Brown, A Frampton, S Waldron (B Lampitt 69), C Attwell, L Beach (capt)
Replacement: D Rosser
Newport scorers: Tries – Dai Pattison , Tom James, Conversion – Geraint O’Driscoll Penalties – Geraint O’Driscoll (2)
Referee: Wayne Davies (WRU)
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group