Newport 28 Bridgend 13: Defensive hunger secures spoils for Black and Ambers
NEWPORT intend spending the next fortnight grafting hard on the training paddock and they will do so with smiles on their faces thanks to a pressure-relieving victory against Bridgend.
The Black and Ambers produced a gutsy, dogged performance to overcome the Ravens 28-13 in a Premiership clash between two strugglers.
Tries in the first by fly-half Ethan Davies and lock Adam Brown earned a slender 13-10 lead at the break before number eight Lee Beach and wing Ashton Hewitt secured a five-point haul.
Any win would've done for Newport, who had just one success to their name before the weekend, so to emerge with a bonus point in appalling conditions was a terrific effort.
It doesn't mask a disappointing start to the campaign but it does give them something to build on with four of their six remaining fixtures in 2013 taking place at Rodney Parade.
"I'm over the moon for the boys, chuffed to bits," said head coach Sven Cronk, whose side are next in action on November 23 against Carmarthen Quins.
"Our defence has been poor so we went back to basics in training and it paid off in abundance, so as coach maybe I've got to look at myself when it comes to that.
"There was a real hunger – it boosts confidence when you force turnovers and errors with your defence. Everything stems from a good defence and that had been lacking.
"Good, hard work has paid off and the boys were quick to say afterwards that they will continue with that over the next couple of weeks.
"We are not where we want to be yet but it's pleasing that we can move on to the next game after a good win."
Newport were led superbly by captain Beach, whose commitment in defence set a standard that his teammates were keen to match. Everyone mucked in and there was a determination to protect their line.
Bridgend crossed the whitewash once through their impressive driving lineout but were not given any easy scores, even at the death.
The importance of getting a win meant it was not really a comfortable afternoon for Newport until the clock went into the 70s but the hosts were in control for most of the game.
They started sloppily but opened the scoring with a magnificent try by Davies.
The fly-half finished off a 60-metre move in which wing Elliot Frewen and flanker Sam Waldron went on the rampage, with Craig Attwell getting an honourable mention for the jackal that started it all.
Bridgend responded through hooker Ashleigh James while the hosts were down to 14 men, tighthead Gethin Robinson in the bin for taking a jumper out at a lineout.
Newport then made light of their one-man disadvantage to sneak into a 10-7 lead after 24 minutes when lock Brown skipped past a few weak tackles to dot down after the midfield duo of Ashley Smith and Tyler Morgan, who worked superbly together, combined to get into the 22.
The Black and Ambers then managed a Houdini act when hooker Dale Rogers joined his front row colleague in the sin bin.
A pushover or penalty try seemed inevitable as Bridgend scrummed their way towards the line only for the ball to pop out the back to be snaffled by the grateful skipper Beach.
On such moments games turn.
Newport's Geraint O'Driscoll stretched the lead with a penalty, with former Black and Ambers skipper Alex Jones yellow-carded for offside, only for Bridgend full-back Ross Jones to strike back with the last kick of the half after an ill-advised Smith pass put the hosts under pressure.
Newport started the second half excellently and got their reward when skipper Beach spotted a gap at a ruck to dart over from close range, stretching out to earn a 18-10 lead.
Wales Under-20s wing Ashton Hewitt, who grafted superbly in defence, secured the bonus point when he squeezed over on 54 minutes and from then on it was case of closing the game out.
The smiles and hugs after the final whistle told the story. It wasn't a win that washes away the frustrations of the season to date but it's a start.
Newport: G O'Driscoll, A Hewitt, T Morgan, A Smith, E Frewen, E Davies (L Robling 52, D Franchi 69), J Leadbeater (A Quick 52), D Pattison, D Rogers (J Jeune 40-59, 65), G Robinson (A Jeffries 77), A Brown, A Frampton, S Waldron (J Jeune 29-39, R Jenkins 80), C Attwell (A Jeffries 29-30, O Griffiths 65), L Beach (captain).
Scorers: tries – E Davies, A Brown, L Beach, A Hewitt; conversion – G O'Driscoll; penalties – G O'Driscoll (2)
Yellow card: G Robinson, D Rogers, S Waldron
Bridgend: R Jones, L Morgan, N Edwards (A Field 50), A Williams, J Murphy, J Dixon, C Williams (S Hopkins 59), G Carpenter (J Bamsey 76), A James (G George 76), J Thomas (C Lewis 76), O Lloyd, A Jones (captain), J Vaughan, J Hopkins (D Barry 80), S Hicks (G Knoop 47).
Scorers: try – A James; conversion – J Dixon; penalties – R Jones (2)
Yellow card: A Jones. Red card: J Vaughan
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Argus star man: Lee Beach
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