10:32am Friday 7th March 2014
NEWPORT head coach Sven Cronk hopes his side can kick on from last weekend’s excellent away victory when they entertain Neath at Rodney Parade tomorrow (SAT) (kick-off 2.30pm), writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
The Black and Ambers are on a high after crushing Bridgend 46-24 at the Brewery Field in a bonus point triumph that yielded six tries.
That superb win is one that should dispel any lingering doubts of relegation to the Swalec Championship for the famous club, but Cronk is adamant his side won’t be resting on their laurels.
Welsh All Blacks Neath, who are seriously flirting with the drop this season, have mounted an impressive comeback since former Ebbw Vale boss Patrick Horgan returned as head coach at The Gnoll.
They are now eight points clear of basement boys Swansea after turning a hitherto winless campaign around with three recent league victories as well as two losing bonus points from last weekend’s epic 36-33 home defeat to leaders Carmarthen Quins.
Still Newport will be confident of recording the double over Neath, especially after the psychological edge of their remarkable comeback against them in November.
They triumphed 26-15 in that encounter despite being 15-3 down at the interval and playing most of the game with 14 men after lock Adam Brown was sent off.
And Cronk urges his troops to build on the high promise shown in Bridgend: “We are under no illusions – we need to maintain our performance from last week, particularly in the first half when our pack was on top and we played in the right areas of the field.”
And he believes they aren’t quite out of the woods yet when it comes to securing their Premiership safety: “Every week feels like a cup final and we still need to give ourselves breathing space.
“There are still a lot of games to be played before the end of the season.”
Newport will be without promising Wales Under-20s players in centre Tyler Morgan, outside-half Ethan Davies (travelling reserve) and back row forward Ollie Griffiths for their Six Nations showdown to England but wing Ashton Hewitt is available.
Newport Gwent Dragons outside-half Lewis Robling is due to feature for the Black and Ambers as he looks to get more game time under his belt.
The 22-year-old has overcome a knee injury and came on as a replacement in the region’s 38-8 battering against Ulster in Belfast last week.
• Newport’s away Premiership encounter with Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets has been switched to Friday, March 28 (kick-off 7.30pm) from Saturday, March 29.
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