11:37am Monday 13th January 2014
NEWPORT have been given a bye into the next round of the Swalec Cup because of a Bonymaen injury crisis, writes Chris Kirwan.
The knockout fixture has been a touch farcical from the off.
First it was shifted from Rodney Parade to Newbridge because Newport County were facing Northampton on January 4 and the visitors refused to play on the Sunday.
Then it was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch at the Welfare Ground and now the Championship strugglers have pulled out of a clash in Newport because they cannot raise a side.
It means that Newport will take on Pontypridd at Sardis Road in the tie of the second round but they have been denied a welcome run out against a Bonymaen side that they beat 95-14 in last season's tournament.
The Black and Ambers have not played since beating Bedwas at Bridge Field on December 21 because they failed to qualify for the British and Irish Cup and their next competitive encounter is against Aberavon on February 8.
“It’s frustrating because we needed the game against Bonymaen,” said head coach Sven Cronk.
“We’ve arranged a friendly at Blackwood on the 28th but the boys could have done with a hit out after a few weeks without a game.”
The home Premiership game against the Wizards is the week before the trip to Sardis Road to face last season’s double-winners.
Newport have a better record than most against Ponty; they have won four of the last 10 encounters while three of their defeats have been by less than a score.
“It’s a tough draw but we have done reasonably well against Pontypridd through the years,” said Cronk, himself a former prop with the side from Sardis Road. “It’s a big challenge for us but one that the boys will be looking forward to.”
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