Newport excited by well-balanced midfield for crunch clash
9:31am Friday 1st November 2013 in Sport
NEWPORT will benefit from the comforting presence of experienced centre Ashley Smith when they take on Bridgend in a hugely important Premiership clash at Rodney Parade.
The Black and Ambers take on the Ravens tomorrow in a fixture between two sides keen to avoid getting embroiled in a relegation dogfight.
Ninth-placed Newport have suffered a shocking start to the season with six defeats from seven games.
One of the few positive aspects of a testing opening two months of the campaign has been the form of teenage Dragons Academy centre Tyler Morgan.
The 18-year-old has scored three tries in five appearances and will be back in black and amber tomorrow after missing last weekend's crushing 48-14 loss in Llandovery because of Welsh Rugby Union national academy commitments.
Partnering him in midfield will be Dragons inside centre Ashley Smith, who made his comeback from a hamstring injury off the bench against the Drovers.
Head coach Sven Cronk is delighted to be able to mix Morgan's youthful exuberance with the 26-year-old's knowhow.
"Tyler's a player with massive potential and has shown that already this season with some superb performances," he said.
"But at times we've lacked a calming influence between 10 and 13 – and we've got that this weekend with Ashley.
"Because of his injury he has had limited game time but he did well at Llandovery and it will be good to have him out there against Bridgend.
"Ashley is a great communicator and, importantly, he has shown that he is keen to play for Newport."
The Black and Ambers head into the game with the Premiership's worst defensive record after Llandovery's six tries took their tally to 26 in six games.
Unsurprisingly Tuesday consisted of a hard-hitting tackling session ahead of a clash with a Bridgend side that have also recorded just one league win.
It has been a memorable week for Newport fans who have toasted the famous win against New Zealand 50 years ago. The Rodney Parade faithful will demand that the team of 2013/14 show the same spirit as the 1963 vintage.
"We have our doubters but I firmly believe we are not far away," said Cronk. "The players are a tight bunch and this is a big game for us as a group.
"We have to produce under pressure against a Bridgend side that are in a similar position to us. I'd like a good performance but to be brutally honest I'd take a narrow win."
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