7:40pm Saturday 8th March 2014
By Iwan Gabe Davies
NEWPORT almost guaranteed their Principality Premiership survival after recording a fine win over relegation haunted Neath at Rodney Parade.
The Black and Ambers built on last week’s excellent 46-24 bonus point victory over Bridgend at the Brewery Field to record their first back-to-back league triumphs this season.
It also saw them secure the double over the Welsh All Blacks after beating them 26-15 at The Gnoll in November.
Newport got off to a great start when Owen Broad was brought into the line from slick lineout ball, the wing finishing in style to give his side the lead after eight minutes, full-back Geraint O’Driscoll converting.
And the Black and Ambers went further ahead after quarter of an hour when O’Driscoll sweetly struck a long range penalty as the hosts when 10-0 up.
Playing with a positive intent to attack, Newport were dominating proceedings and another O’Driscoll penalty was their reward.
Neath also looked to spread the ball as well and a promising attack ended with No 10 Dale Ford cutting the gap to 13-3 with a penalty.
The home side should have been further ahead in the 34th minute when a searing break by Newport Gwent Dragons outside-half Lewis Robling looked to have put in replacement flanker Sam Waldron, but he was tackled just inches short of the Neath try line.
Visiting tighthead prop Marc Jones was yellow carded at the ensuing scrum and the Black and Ambers looked to capitalise on their opponents being down to 14 men.
But, much to the frustration of the Rodney Parade faithful, the referee Ben Whitehouse didn’t award them a penalty try when it looked as though they had Neath on the ropes in the scrum.
But the half ended with Newport just ten points ahead when it really should have been more.
They did break Neath’s resistance in the 50th minute when some lovely handling saw Broad in space, the little wing doing superbly again to score his second try, converted by O’Driscoll.
A break from deep, wing Ashton Hewitt fly hacking ahead, gave them a great chance to score their third try from excellent field position, but desperate Neath defence and some Newport handling errors meant the score remained the same.
The home side created a number of chances to increase their lead, Broad could have scored a hat trick had a pass been better timed, but Neath’s defence and some basic handling errors meant the winning margin was 17 points when it should have been far more.
Joy for Newport but despair for a Neath side still in danger of going down this season.
Newport: Geraint O'Driscoll, Ashton Hewitt, Dan Robinson, Dom Franchi, Owen Broad, Lewis Robling, Andrew Quick (James Leadbeater 70), Dai Pattison (James Greenfield 70), Dale Rogers (Andrew Brown 59), Gethin Robinson (Alex Jeffries 67), Adam Brown, Adam Frampton, Craig Attwell, Rhys Jenkins (Sam Waldron 30), Lee Beach (capt) (Brendan Lampitt 70) Replacement: Matt O'Brien
Newport scorers: Tries – Owen Broad (8) (50), Conversions – Geraint O’Driscoll (8) (50), Penalties – O’Driscoll (15) (20).
Neath: Aaron Bramwell; Alec Jenkins, Ryan Evans (John Leyshon 75), Aaron Pinches, Ceri Young; Dale Ford, James Helliwell; Roy Jones (James Reeves 55), Sion Crocker (Josh Davies 60), Marc Jones (Mike Bermingham 67), Gavin Evans (Ieuan Dobbs 55), Jack Jones (Jordan Collier 75), Lee Evans (capt), Leon Ward, Gareth Bateman (Steffan Jones 38-48, Gareth Gravell 51)
Neath scorer: Penalty – Dale Ford (23)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Argus star man: Owen Broad
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