A late try from Llanelli centre James Griffiths last night prevented Newport gaining only a second victory at Parc y Scarlets, writes Tony Poole.
Though the Black and Ambers seemed destined to gain a deserved win – and erase the memory of a surprise defeat at bottom-placed Swansea the previous week – it simply wasn’t to be.
It means the lone Newport win at the ground remains the 36-10 success during a first visit to the Carmarthenshire ground in April 2009.
Eighth-placed Newport were on the scoreboard first via a third-minute penalty from full-back Geraint O’Driscoll – but the lead only lasted a minute.
Opposite number Gareth Walters struck the equalising penalty – and more Llanelli pressure resulted in him knocking over further penalties in the 14th and 19th minutes.
Newport then had ex-Bedwas back-row man Brendan Lampitt binned in the 25th minute for ball-killing, and Walters nailed the ensuing penalty for 12-3.
A fifth Walters penalty enhanced the lead on the half-hour, but in the 32nd minute, the Black and Ambers bucked the trend in remarkable fashion.
With Lampitt still on the sidelines, full-back O’Driscoll burst clear down the left touchline to claim a superb corner try that he also improved on.
That reduced half-time arrears to 15-10, and rejuvenated Newport were back on terms just 90 seconds into the second period.
Wales U20 centre Tyler Morgan drove over for an unconverted try close to the flag while soon after Llanelli full-back Walters fluffed a second penalty.
Newport bombed a decent try-scoring chance in the 56th minute when full-back O’Driscoll failed to cling on to a difficult try-scoring pass from centre Morgan.
However, it was now the Black and Ambers who were pressing, and replacement wing Tom James almost set up a try for centre Morgan on the hour.
But Newport perseverance was rewarded in the 70th minute, as a piercing break from replacement wing James produced a try close to the posts that O’Driscoll duly goaled.
That led to Llanelli piling on the pressure during the closing exchanges – and the equalising score unfolded five minutes into stoppage-time.
Replacement flanker Dan Thomas opened up the Newport defence for centre Griffiths to shoot through a gap to touchdown halfway out.
The outcome then hinged on the conversion, and full-back Walters curled his kick in at the far post to earn Llanelli an unexpected share of the spoils.
LLANELLI: G Walters; J Adams, Jonny Lewis (J Evans 45), J Griffiths, D Lewis; J James, A Davies; R Thomas, K Myhill (D Harris h-t), G Havard (B Leung 65), N White, E Price, D Eager (capt), S Leach (D Thomas 65), O Morgan
Scorers: Try – J Griffiths; Con: G Walters; Pens: G Walters (5)
NEWPORT: G O’Driscoll; A Hewitt, T Morgan, D Robinson, O Broad (T James 59); E Davies, J Leadbetter; D Pattison, Andrew Brown, A Jeffries, D Rosser (Adam Brown 51), A Frampton, C Attwell (capt), B Lampitt, O Griffiths
Scorers: Tries – G O’Driscoll, T Morgan, T James; Cons: G O’Driscoll (2); Pens: G O’Driscoll
REFEREE: Owain Griffith (Cardiff).