6:17am Tuesday 22nd April 2014
IMPROVING Newport can end their season on a high by taking the scalps of two top four Principality Premiership sides in their pair of remaining games.
The Black and Ambers face reigning league and Swalec Cup champions and current table toppers Pontypridd at Rodney Parade tonight (kick off 7.15pm) before entertaining fourth placed Llandovery on Saturday (kick off 2.30pm).
With Ponty already having secured home advantage in the league’s grand final play-off and with a British and Irish Cup semi-final to look forward to against Leinster A at Sardis Road this weekend, not to mention their Swalec Cup final against Cross Keys on May 4, this is as good a time to play them as any.
And with Newport playing well, despite being unlucky to lose their last two league games, successive encounters with local rivals Keys, 10-9 at home and 33-29 away, there’s no reason why they can’t topple Ponty this evening.
The Black and Ambers don’t have a bad recent record against them, being the only side to beat them in the league last season, emerging as 20-19 victors at home in October 2012 and then giving them a real fright at Sardis Road before going down 32-24 last February.
It’s true they lost heavily to tonight’s opponents when they played them in the league (38-18) back in September and in the Swalec Cup (34-10) this February, but Sven Cronk’s men will be greatly encouraged after coming so close to beating high flying Keys away three days ago.
They came within an ace of derailing the Gwent Valleys’ play-off ambitions at Pandy Park when the Swalec Cup finalists just held on in a thrilling match.
Cronk is hoping his men will learn from their mistakes after letting their 29-26 lead slip with just six minutes to go against 14 men, Keys replacement openside Jack Perkins having been sin binned, tries by wing Owen Broad, second row Adam Frampton as well as 19 points from the boot of full-back Geraint O’Driscoll looking to have been enough to secure what would have been a sweet win.
“It was an excellent game but we were guilty of making critical errors through some poor decision-making, including trying to launch one suicidal counter attack,” the Newport head coach said.
“It is disappointing and frustrating when we have 23 guys all working hard and then one person decides to do something off the page.
“I thought our defence against Keys was good and we’ll look to put things right in our next two games.
“We want to end the season on a high and we have real ambitions to be a top four side next season.”
Newport: E Davies, A Hewitt, D Robinson, G O'Driscoll, O Broad, M O'Brien, A Quick, D Pattison, J Jeune, A Jeffries, Adam Brown (capt), A Frampton, S Waldron, O Griffiths, B Lampitt.
Replacements: Evan Whitson, J Greenfield, D Rosser, Ross Gibbon, J Leadbeater, C Goode, T James, J Monck.
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