NEWPORT 18 LLANDOVERY 18
IT’S likely that the Newport squad will be well acquainted with tackle bags after this week’s training.
The Black and Ambers shared the spoils with Llandovery at Rodney Parade on Saturday, but no thanks to some shoddy defending.
The Drovers crossed for three easy-on-the-eye but easily avoidable scores in the first half. You can pick holes in most tries but these efforts would not have needed a magnifying glass and slow-motion replay to spot the errors.
The line breaks kept coming after the break only for Llandovery, who tested Newport with their neat offloading game, to fail to finish them off.
Yet with a bit more composure at the end of a scoreless second half the Black and Ambers could easily have been celebrating an unlikely victory.
“You are never happy with not winning but I am quietly pleased after the way that we stuck at it,” said head coach Sven Cronk.
“In the end defensive lapses cost us and we need to screw that down next week (against Cross Keys in the British and Irish Cup). We cannot afford to miss so many one-on-one tackles.”
Llandovery wing Andrew Claypole got the first score, going over in the right corner after Mike Poole had failed with an attempted big hit on Matthew Jacobs.
Newport centre Dan Robinson responded when he went past the last man far too easily, only for Drovers centre Jack Roberts to finish off an attack where missed tackles were plentiful.
Wales sevens skipper Richie Pugh was next over the line with an absolute shocker from the home perspective, an aimless kick downfield, poor chase and awful defensive line allowing the flanker to finish off a move.
The Black and Ambers scored a magnificent team try with the last play of the half – prop Dai Pattison, flankers Brendan Lampitt and Craig Attwell and wing Poole combining to put centre Adam Davies clear – but it wouldn’t have been enough to spare them a half-time rollocking.
Eight points from the boot of home fly-half Scott Sneddon and just three from opposite number Cerith Rees, who missed all three conversions, meant it was 18-18 at the break.
And that’s how it stayed, although both sides will reflect on missed chances in a more drab second half.
Llandovery made more of them with ball in hand and Sneddon and replacement Llandovery fly-half Jamie Garland missed long-range efforts from the tee before a frantic finale.
Newport burst into the 22 in injury time, but instead of heading towards the middle of the field to set up a drop goal they went right and were pinged for holding on (although they could easily have been the recipients of a penalty themselves).
Then Llandovery went down the other end but knocked the ball on just as they were setting up their own drop-goal attempt, leaving both sides to settle for two points.
Newport: G O’Driscoll, O Broad, D Robinson, A Davies (E Frewen 40), M Poole, S Sneddon (T Hancock 38-40), J Leadbeater (R Downes 72), D Pattison (J Jeune 65), A Brown (R Prosser 58), T Ryan (G Robinson 58), R Jones (D Rosser 79), A Frampton, B Lampitt, C Attwell (captain), R Coombs (P Sargent 75).
Scorers: Tries – D Robinson, A Davies; conversion – S Sneddon; penalties – S Sneddon (2).
Llandovery: C Knight, A Warren, M Jacobs, J Roberts, A Claypole (R Walters 75), C Rees (J Garland 50), L Rees, D Williams (W Jones 65), J Lewis, D Howells (P Edwards 50), S Jones (captain), M Harbut, L Kendall (S Miles 50), R Pugh, R Brooks (L Phillips 58).
Scorers: Tries – A Claypole, J Roberts, R Pugh; penalties – C Rees.
Referee: Simon Rees (WRU).
Argus star man: Dan Robinson.