Newport eyeing British and Irish Cup after stylish second half in Bedwas

CRUCIAL SCORE: Full-back Geraint O'Driscoll got Newport back in the game on the stroke of half-time

CRUCIAL SCORE: Full-back Geraint O'Driscoll got Newport back in the game on the stroke of half-time

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IT looked like Newport were going to endure a long afternoon against Bedwas after 15 minutes of their British and Irish Cup qualifier at Bridge Field.

The hosts led 6-0 and could easily have been three tries to the good; full-back Harley Thompson had dropped the ball over the line and had a score chalked off for a forward pass while Newport wing Owen Broad should have been contemplating a penalty try while he spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

But to the Black and Ambers' credit they rallied not once but twice, also fighting back after a quickfire brace had put Bedwas in command at 20-8 approaching half-time.

In the end Newport were good value for a six-try win that earns them a showdown with Cross Keys for the right to represent the region against Bedford, Doncaster and Cornish Pirates.

"It was a very pleasing win and our second-half performance was really good," said head coach Sven Cronk.

"We felt that we could cause Bedwas problems if we could cut out the errors and play at tempo.

"There was a real attacking intent while the pack held up despite their inexperience. I can't fault the players."

While the Black and Amber prepare for Pandy Park on Saturday, Bedwas go back to the drawing board ahead of a Principality Premiership opener against Llanelli.

"I take my hat off to Newport, they stayed in it when under pressure in the first half and then took their chances when they came," said head coach Steve Law.

"It was frustrating that we weren't further ahead at half-time and you reap what you sow, we were poor for a patch of the second half and never got back into the game because of our errors.

"It's frustrating and we've got a lot more to offer than we showed out there."

It was an entertaining game with the rapid scoring aided by the understandable errors of two new teams (Bedwas had 9 debutants while Newport fielded 10).

The hosts made an impressive start but failed to take their chances and had to settle for a pair of Richard Powell penalties.

The Black and Ambers had been on the back foot yet they scored the first try when centre Nathan Edwards showed strength to make it over after excellent bursts by hooker Will Evans and number eight Brendan Lampitt.

Fly-half Matt O'Brien added a drop goal to inch the visitors in front 8-6 but a home victory looked on the cards when scrum-half Joe Smith and centre Aaron Pinches raced over approaching half-time.

Crucially Newport responded before the break when Geraint O'Driscoll finished down the left after good work by centre Dan Robinson and wing Owen Broad.

That score made it 20-13 to keep the Black and Ambers in touch at half-time and they didn't look back.

O'Brien scored just 55 seconds into the second half after openside Ollie Griffiths – at 19 the youngest captain in Newport's 140-year history – was stopped just short.

O'Driscoll converted from wide on the right to level the scores and made it 27-20 when he added the extras to Evans' powerful charge over the whitewash on 45 minutes.

Bedwas wing Matthew John went over to give the hosts hope but it was soon ended by his opposite number as the game entered the final quarter.

Impressive Newport speedster Jon Morris finished neatly and then, following quality ball off the top of a lineout, hit the line a la Rodney Parade favourite Mike Poole to secure victory.

Bedwas: H Thompson, R Budina, A Pinches, P Davies, M John (S Taylor 60), R Powell (J Maynard 50), J Smith (T Rowlands 60), B Toms (D Preece 50), A Rees (R Wilkes 60), M Petit (I Jenkins 43), P Rees, J Walker (J Richards 65), A Lee (I Jenkins 70-79), S Grainger (captain), D Crimmins (J Sawyer 50).

Scorers: tries – J Smith, A Pinches, M John; conversions – R Powell (2); penalties – R Powell (2)

Newport: G O'Driscoll (J Murphy 70), J Morris, N Edwards, D Robinson (C Rees 73), O Broad, M O'Brien, O Davies (A Quick 78), L Jenkins (J Greenfield 70), W Evans (Andrew Brown 75), A Jeffries (J Greenfield 50-56), Adam Brown (D Partridge 65), A Frampton, S Feehan, O Griffiths (captain) B Lampitt (S Cross 65).

Scorers: tries – N Edwards, G O'Driscoll, M O'Brien, W Evans, J Morris (2); conversions – G O'Driscoll (4); drop goal – M O'Brien

Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)

Argus star man: Will Evans

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