NEWPORT leapfrogged their fiercest rivals Cardiff into seventh in the Principality Premiership after their stunning bonus point win over league and cup holders Pontypridd at Rodney Parade.
It’s true the visitors weren’t at their strongest having already sewn up a home tie in the Premiership’s grand final play-off, as well as looking forward to their their huge showdown hosting Leinster A in the British and Irish Cup semi-finals on Saturday.
But no Ponty side is a pushover so the Black and Ambers’ demolition of the proud men from Sardis Road was one to savour, also avenging heavy defeats away to Ponty in the league and Swalec Cup this season.
And the hosts got off to a great start, in-form wing Owen Broad crossing for his fifth try of the season in his 12th appearance after some slick handling by his back division colleagues gave him the room to squeeze over in the corner.
Full-back Geraint O’Driscoll missed the touchline conversion but his side were 5-0 up after five minutes.
Ponty No 10 Lewis K Williams struck back for his team with a penalty on the 10-minute mark, but that was soon cancelled out when the Premiership’s leading points scorer O’Driscoll slotted over three points of his own.
But it was the visitors who hit back with a sweet try created by centre Gary Williams who fed his midfield partner with a well-times pass, Garyn Smith crossing for an unconverted try which saw brought the sides back equal at 8-8 after 20 minutes.
An impressive run and turn of speed by tighthead prop Alex Jeffries nearly saw him over in the corner but he was bundled into touch just short.
Newport stole the ensuing lineout and veteran loosehead Dai Pattison was driven over, O’Driscoll kicking the tricky conversion.
The Black and Ambers were disrupting Ponty’s lineout well and Newport began to grow in confidence before wing Ashton Hewitt scored a sensational individual try which saw him beat about five men from just inside the visitors’ half, the conversion taking them into a 22-8 lead at the interval.
A second O’Driscoll penalty took them further ahead before Hewitt secured their bonus point with his second try after he finished well from a neat O’Driscoll chip, the No 15 slotting over the extras.
Ponty’s opensidse Tom Hetherington pulled a try back for them after 58 minutes, converted by replacement Simon Humberstone.
A Newport penalty stretched their lead to 35-15 with less than a quarter of the match to go.
Pontypridd’s replacement No 9 Lloyd Williams crossed for a converted try just after his opposite number, substitute scrum-half, James Leadbeater was yellow carded in a fast and furious ending that resembled sevens more than the 15-man game.
Ponty threatened an unlikely comeback but Newport held on to emerge as more than worthy winners.
Newport scorers: Tries – Owen Broad (5), Dai Pattison (27), Ashton Hewitt (34, 47), Conversions – Geraint O’Driscoll (27, 34, 47), Penalties – Geraint O’Driscoll (13, 42, 64)
Pontypridd scorers: Tries – Garyn Smith (20), Tom Hetherington (58), Lloyd Williams (69), Conversions – Simon Humberstone (58, 69), Penalty – Lewis K Williams (10)
Referee: Rhys Thomas (WRU)
Argus star man: Ashton Hewitt