Agony on Parade for Black and Ambers
A HERCULEAN effort with ball in hand into the wind was not enough for Newport after Aberavon emerged with the spoils from a lottery at a wet, windy and cold Rodney Parade.
The Black and Ambers were hoping to ease fears of being dragged into a Premiership relegation dogfight by beating the struggling Wizards.
But Newport, who were in action for the first time in six weeks, are still looking over their shoulder after failing to score enough points while conditions were in their favour in the first half.
They led 6-0 but their manful, spirited efforts were in vain after Aberavon edged 8-6 in front after 48 minutes.
Their ball-carrying with freezing rain blowing into their faces – especially by number eight Brendan Lampitt – probably deserved more than a losing bonus point but that’s all they got.
The Black and Ambers had not played since beating Bedwas at Bridge Field on December 21 and must have feared another postponement through a combination of traffic chaos and horrendous weather.
Referee Gwyn Morris and his assistants were delayed on their way to Rodney Parade and when they got there they were greeted by howling wind and torrential rain.
Thankfully there was no lack of desire from any party to play and the game was completed.
While the Black and Ambers were delighted to be back in action, the Amber Army would not have been quite so happy.
The long studs of 31 men squelching around in horrendous conditions will mean that a minor miracle will have to be worked for County’s Friday night encounter with Fleetwood to get the green light.
The tenants already face a fixture pile-up and will be sweating on the game against their playoff rivals AND Tuesday’s home encounter with Wimbledon
But that’s not of concern to the landlords; all that was on their minds was taking the spoils to ease any lingering relegation fears.
Six weeks of planning on the training paddock counted for little on such a night; it was a case of the team with the wind booting the ball downfield and the side playing into the gale attempting to keep the error count low while pinned back near the North Terrace.
It was Newport that enjoyed use of the conditions first and they enjoyed a 6-0 lead at the break.
Aberavon made the only clear line break through impressive on-loan Cornish Pirates centre Rheon James but that came to nothing and they were punished by a pair of penalties by Geraint O’Driscoll.
The Newport full-back did fail twice from the tee in the first half and Wizards fly-half Ceiron Thomas was wide with one effort but it would be a harsh man that points the finger of blame at kickers on such nights.
It looked like the hosts had not built a big enough advantage with the wind at their backs and it took just eight minutes for Aberavon to inch in from 8-6 thanks to number eight Tom Duncan’s try from a driving lineout and a Thomas penalty.
Newport responded superbly and regained the lead with two minutes left when fly-half Matt O’Brien smacked a cracking penalty into the wind only for Thomas to reply immediately from the tee.
Newport scorers: penalties – G O’Driscoll (2), M O’Brien
Aberavon scorers: try – T Duncan; penalties – C Thomas (2)
Argus star man: Brendan Lampitt